Letter to the editor from Selim Bingol, Senior VP & Chief Communications Officer, Duke Energy
As we begin to emerge from the historic devastation caused by Florence, most of us are asking “how can we help our neighbors?” Jim Warren of NC WARN instead seems to have wondered how he can take advantage of this tragedy to suit his own agenda (“Duke Energy’s use of methane fueling hurricanes,” Sept. 21).
He’s back at it again, with thinly sourced claims, wild insinuations and plain old fear-mongering. It’s an insult to the people who have been working around the clock to restore power to the Carolinas. Out of respect to the work they’re doing, I’d like to provide some facts in response to the rhetoric.
We’re proud of our results in generating cleaner energy. Our expanded use of natural gas has led to a 32 percent decline in emissions since 2005 and we’re on track to make it 40 percent by 2030. Since 2011, we’ve reduced methane emissions from power generation and natural gas distribution by a combined 22 percent. Our dramatic reductions in emissions as we’ve moved away from coal generation have resulted in some of the most historic improvements in air and water quality in our lifetime.
Around the country, pipeline leaks have been reduced by 94 percent since 1985, which prevented 122 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to removing more than 25 million vehicles from the road each year.
There is no realistic solution to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions that doesn’t involve the increased use of natural gas. Coal-to-gas conversion was one of the EPA’s three “key building blocks” for achieving greenhouse gas reductions under the Clean Power Plan. Natural gas is also a critical partner for renewables because it provides the reliable, around-the-clock backup power we need to keep the lights on when renewables aren’t generating.
North Carolina is second in the nation with total installed solar capacity of 4,000 megawatts — a figure that is set to double in seven years. Duke Energy has invested more than $6 billion in solar energy and we have battery projects planned or underway, including an announcement last year to develop the largest battery storage projects to date in North Carolina.
Criticism may keep contributions flowing to NC WARN’s coffers, but it doesn’t contribute to the kind of progress North Carolina is making. Our clean energy future is being shaped by the productive and collaborative work between utilities, our customers and our communities seeking to bring about real change.