Upcoming “technical conference” is poor substitute for making Duke Energy officials answer questions under oath
After a year of major public and legal opposition to Duke Energy’s 15-year plan for the Carolinas, the NC Utilities Commission has rejected calls for a full evidentiary hearing that were issued by Attorney General Stein, NC WARN and our partner the Center for Biological Diversity. This is a blow to the people of North Carolina – especially those suffering the repeated impacts of climate crisis.
The commission could still reject Duke’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan – as South Carolina regulators did – but they missed an important opportunity to make officials explain under oath why they grossly misled the regulators on the core issue at hand: Duke’s claim that it must build 9,600 megawatts of new gas-fired generation even though the Charlotte-based monopoly has dozens of similar units sitting idle even during periods of highest demand.
Instead, commissioners will question Duke during a two-day “technical conference” on three other issues raised during the IRP process. None of them carry the weight of the over-building issue, or of the NC WARN/CBD recommendation that adding battery storage at existing solar farms would be cheaper and more reliable than Duke’s climate science-defying plan to add scores of fossil fuel units and a gas storage facility in Robeson County.
Duke Energy remains only 5 percent renewable in the Carolinas despite all those deceptive ads you keep hearing and seeing. And a new study shows the Carolinas could install three times the amount of solar Duke has planned, add no new gas and save $1.2 billion in the process.
The international science community is demanding a halt to new gas (methane) infrastructure. Methane is a super-potent heat trapper that has caused about 40 percent of global heating.
Leading scientists such as Duke University’s Drew Shindell say curbing methane emissions can help slow the climate crisis “very, very quickly.”
Yet the revised IRP that Duke submitted to the South Carolina commission last month still shows the full 9,600 megawatts of new fossil gas capacity.
Because the issues the North Carolina commission will question Duke about are very narrow, NC WARN and CBD have determined we don’t have a role in the technical conference, which will take place Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
This leg of the climate justice fight isn’t over. NC WARN and a growing host of allies will continue pressing utilities commissioners and Gov. Cooper to stop letting the largest climate-polluting utility in the US continue to drive humanity toward climate breakdown while blocking the clean energy revolution.