The NC Utilities Commission told our attorney and other intervenors late Friday that it will conduct a two-day technical session to take a deeper look into Duke Energy’s hotly contested 15-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) on September 30 and October 1. The move comes as the world’s climate scientists insist that natural gas (methane) emissions must be dramatically reduced.
The commission’s move is yet another major problem for the nation’s worst climate-polluting electricity provider. Duke executives must be deeply concerned about facing more scrutiny over their proposal to add more than 50 gas-burning power units and to keep slow-walking the growth of cheaper, renewable power matched with battery storage.
This follows the unprecedented rejection of Duke’s IRP by South Carolina regulators in a June ruling that mirrors many of the failures identified by Duke Energy’s critics in North Carolina.
Attorney General Josh Stein, NC WARN and the Center for Biological Diversity have been calling for evidentiary hearings. The coming 2-day technical session appears to be different, but the commission could still conduct evidentiary hearings – which are judicial-type proceedings – after the technical session. It hasn’t ruled on a motion by the Center and NC WARN seeking evidentiary hearings.
The commission will soon identify the procedure for the proceedings and topics for discussion at the 2-day session.
In addition to the issues raised in South Carolina, Attorneys for NC WARN and the Center have presented evidence that Duke grossly misled the Commission by alleging a shortage of available power during winter peaks. In fact, Duke had up to 40% more power than needed even on the coldest days in recent years. Also, we discovered that, just after Duke’s highest usage in years – during a deep freeze in 2015 – Duke officials assured the commission they had large amounts of reserve power.
For months, thousands of North Carolinians and organizations have urged the commission to reject Duke’s gas-heavy, climate-wrecking plan.
Today’s UN-backed climate report is dominating world news and emphasizing how crucial it is for humanity to immediately curb emissions of carbon dioxide and “especially methane.” It amplifies the work of Dr. Drew Shindell of Duke University, who has twice called on Gov. Cooper to stop new gas infrastructure, and is lead author of a May United Nations report showing that curbing methane emissions is essential to averting climate chaos.
Duke Energy leaders are acting in total opposition to climate science. We again call on Gov. Cooper to use his emergency authority to stop them.