CEO Lynn Good making climate crisis even worse with new 15-year plans – expanding fossil fuels and limiting renewables – while claiming to be a leader
Duke Energy’s press release today claims the corporation will “achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” but the details show it’s a scandalous deception foisted upon the news media, the public and public officials such as Governor Cooper. The announcement is flatly belied by Duke’s separate, 15-year plan for the Carolinas, filed with regulators on September 3, which shows a huge increase in the use of fracked “natural” gas – a 22 percent increase even over last year’s plan – and a continuing, pathetic commitment to renewable energy and battery storage.
These actions make clear that Duke Energy executives, by greatly expanding the use of fossil fuels and impeding the growth of renewable power in an age of harrowing climate crisis, are rapidly making global warming worse. Their expanded use of gas (methane) is morally criminal because so much is being vented unburned into the air, where its super potency is a major driver of climate change in the all-important short term.
The 15-year plan shows that Duke now projects to build the equivalent of 30 large gas-burning power plants in the Carolinas alone. They would be fueled by fracked gas if Duke can ever get the infamous Atlantic Coast Pipeline built – a stalled project that would cost North Carolinians $20 billion over the first 20 years.
Duke’s continuing (and successful) deception seeks to confuse people by referring to “carbon” emissions when they mean “carbon dioxide.” Since burning gas emits less CO2 than coal, Duke claims it’s a climate leader because it is replacing coal with gas, conveniently ignoring the massive emissions of methane from every stage of the natural gas lifecycle.
But by greatly expanding its overall fossil fuel generation with the fracked gas build-up, Duke is already out of step with Paris goals even if only CO2 is considered.
But on top of that, the science is clear that gas is even worse than coal for the climate because so much of it is vented unburned into the air before it gets to the power plant.
The new 15-year plan shows Duke plans to be only 8% renewable in the Carolinas by 2034, making the monopoly corporation a nationally-leading laggard even as many states and utilities are quickly shifting from natural gas to cheaper, renewable energy paired with battery storage.
No wonder Duke Energy spends $80 million a year to buy influence from politicians, civic leaders and news media.