Duke commissioned federal study that called for far more renewables; utilities commission now say it’s too late to consider, but they should seek more time from legislature
An expert study requested by Duke Energy shows the corporation could most economically meet its carbon reduction requirements by tripling the amount of solar the utility wound up proposing in its draft carbon plan. But Duke withheld the evidence until after the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) had completed a weeks-long, judicial-type hearing, according to seven clean energy groups.
The commission should whistle a flagrant foul on Duke Energy and urge the legislature to relax its year-end deadline for the carbon plan, thus allowing all parties the time to argue the merits of the highly important evidence Duke buried. At the very least, the NCUC should reject Duke’s proposal to build dozens of gas-fired units – especially since numerous parties have proven they aren’t needed and would be a reckless climate approach for North Carolina.
“It is hiding important evidence from a quasi-judicial branch of the government,” Chris Carmody, head of the Carolinas Clean Energy Business Association, told the Charlotte Business Journal. “… that goes to Duke’s credibility on its proposals for how best to achieve the state’s goals.”
His organization and six others filed a motion last week calling for the NCUC to allow the study into evidence, saying it has great bearing on this extremely important case. The study was conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Attorney General Josh Stein and 12 other parties endorsed the groups’ motion. Nazneen Ahmed of Stein’s office told CBJ: “The NREL study offers additional data and evidence to support the approach taken in our office’s supplemental modeling, which calls for greater additions of wind and solar than Duke’s proposal.”
NC WARN applauds the groups behind this motion, and agrees that there should be careful and open consideration of the new findings. But the NCUC ruled Friday against allowing debate over the study, saying it faces a tight deadline for submitting a carbon plan to the legislature.
Duke claimed the study was accessible because NREL posted it on its website in August, and that preliminary findings were shared during a “stakeholder” meeting last spring.
The first two findings by NREL:
Finding 1: Duke Energy can meet the 2030 emissions target in North Carolina through investments in a combination of solar PV, wind, and energy storage, along with maintaining its existing nuclear fleet. [p. vi]
Finding 2: A zero-carbon emissions electricity sector target in 2050 can be achieved through investments in solar PV and battery energy storage, coupled with maintaining the existing nuclear fleet, building land-based and offshore wind, and procuring other zero-carbon emissions resources that supply firm capacity. [p. viii]
Just as it earlier rigged key data in this case to make new gas-fired power generation appear superior to solar-plus-storage, Duke has again been caught cherry-picking its data to support new gas.
Duke Energy’s execs seem hell-bent on building vast amounts of gas-fired and nuclear generation – calling that a transition to clean energy.