Late yesterday the NC Utilities Commission effectively denied NC WARN’s November motion calling for an evidence-based hearing over Duke Energy’s hotly contested 15-year plan to limit renewable power, constantly raise power bills and greatly expand its use of climate-wrecking fracked gas.
Since February, Attorney General Josh Stein, scores of local and state officials, climate experts and nearly 2,000 members of the public have joined the call for the hearing and/or flat-out rejection of Duke Energy’s 15-year plan.
NC WARN is deeply disappointed that the commission chose to proceed without allowing open scrutiny of Duke Energy’s plans for this state. Instead, they called on Duke and other parties to draft proposed orders in the case.
Duke lawyers again fought against the motion for such a hearing, where its officials would be questioned by lawyers from NC WARN and other parties. Duke continues to block having to debate the engineer/author of NC WARN’s Clean Path 2025 strategy, which shows how shifting the electric system to distributed solar paired with energy storage is now cheaper and more reliable than building more “natural” gas infrastructure.
That transition is urgently needed to help avert runaway climate chaos.
Duke’s 15-year plan shows only 8% renewables by 2033 (as many other US utilities are already above 30%), with only 230 megawatts (MW) of storage and 9,000 MW of new generation from fracked gas.
The commission must still rule on the IRP itself, so we can hope they won’t just go along with the corporation the way past commissions have done. But the failure to conduct an evidentiary hearing is a bad sign.
The line-up is changing at the NC Utilities Commission. We need a commission that will begin holding Duke Energy accountable for its practices that constantly raise power bills while harming communities and driving humanity toward climate chaos.