Despite Duke Energy deception, all 4 of its carbon scenarios include massive gas expansions; hearings begin Tuesday
Stopping emissions of natural gas (methane) – a super-potent heat trapper – could “give the world a fighting chance” to prevent “catastrophic global warming” from becoming irreversible. That’s the message from a leading global scientist based at Duke University.
Yet Duke Energy officials continue confusing the media, the public and Gov. Cooper into talking only about carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, all four of Duke Energy’s carbon plan portfolios include at least 8,800 MW of new natural gas-fired power – dozens of units – by 2050. (See Table E-71, p. 77, sum of combustion turbine (CT) and combined cycle (CC) columns.)
CEO Lynn Good and her corporate illusionists want people to consider only the gas expansions proposed by 2035. But the Charlotte-based climate-wrecker is seeking regulatory approval to build up to 11,700 MW of gas generation by 2050, and nearly as much new nuclear power (Table E-84, p. 86), even though distributed, clean energy paired with storage and energy-saving measures poses a cheaper and more reliable approach that would actually help slow the climate crisis.
Duke Energy’s actions are corporate lunacy and the people of North Carolina must demand they be stopped. Unfortunately the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) ordered a shocking process change for the evidentiary hearing that begins Tuesday.*
Below are some of the recent conclusions by teams led by Dr. Drew Shindell, a climate expert at Duke University, from his UN-backed study of May 2021 and his May 2022 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
“Slashing emissions of carbon dioxide by itself isn’t enough to prevent catastrophic global warming … But if we simultaneously also reduce emissions of methane and other often overlooked climate pollutants, we could cut the rate of global warming in half by 2050 and give the world a fighting chance.”
“To slow warming in the near-term and reduce suffering from the ever-increasing heatwaves, droughts, superstorms and fires, we need to also reduce short-lived climate pollutants this decade.”
“[F]ocusing our efforts almost exclusively on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, as most
governments currently do, can no longer prevent global temperatures from rising above pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees centigrade. Such a rise would substantially increase the risks of tipping points at which irreversible impacts will occur.”
“Our analysis shows that climate pollutants such as methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon soot, low-level ozone and hydrofluorocarbons contribute almost as much to global warming as longer-lived CO2 … Since most of them last only a short time in the atmosphere, cutting them will slow warming faster than any other mitigation strategy.”
“We’re still going wildly in the wrong direction, but we can turn that around very, very quickly,” Dr. Shindell said. “We could all use a climate success story.” (NY Times 4/24/21)
In the carbon plan docket, NC WARN and other parties have demonstrated how to avoid building new gas-fired units, close coal plants immediately and avoid constant rate hikes.
As Dr. Shindell and 40 EPA retirees have told Gov. Roy Cooper, all his climate efforts will be outmatched if Duke Energy keeps expanding the use of natural gas.
Who will tell the people Shindell’s hopeful news in these frightening times? We call on all media outlets and the public to spread the word: Humanity’s best chance is to stop expanding the use of natural gas.
* The NCUC hearing on the carbon plan begins Tuesday at 9am in the Dobbs Building (430 N. Salisbury St.) in Raleigh. The hearing, which may last two weeks or more, will be live-streamed. In a shocking move, the NCUC will not allow expert witnesses to verbally summarize their voluminous written testimonies when they take the witness stand. This summary is customary for NCUC hearings and gives the public, media and utilities commissioners a brief, less technical understanding of the complex issues before witnesses and attorneys dive into the details. It is unclear why the NCUC made this surprising decision, particularly for a hearing that is so critical to our state’s energy future.