Regulators defy 45 scientists and solid wall of opposition by approving Duke plan to keep building fracked gas-burning power plants while limiting solar additions indefinitely
Tragically, the NC Utilities Commission went along with Duke Energy’s massive, climate-wrecking fracked gas expansion. The commission also seemed to go along with Duke’s request to greatly limit new solar projects indefinitely pending billions in new – and likely controversial – transmission projects.
Sadly, the NCUC joins Duke Energy in being horribly out of step with climate science. NC WARN and allies now redouble our call for Gov. Roy Cooper to finally get aligned with the science and stop Duke Energy’s reckless corporate behavior.
In the NC Carbon Plan released very late today, the NCUC approved a continuation of Duke Energy’s years-long, massive expansion of new natural gas-fired power generation.
As 45 scientists recently stated in an appeal to NC Governor Roy Cooper, methane (natural gas) is a key driver of the climate crisis and curbing its emissions is crucial for humanity to have “a fighting chance” to prevent irreversible climate chaos. They pressed Cooper and Duke CEO Lynn Good to stop expanding the use of natural gas.
Instead of joining Attorney General Josh Stein and numerous environmental, social justice and business organizations – who argue that new gas is neither needed nor a valid way to decarbonize, the NCUC consented to Duke’s climate-wrecking demands.
Duke Energy’s draft plan (p. 86, Table E-84) called for nearly doubling its already huge gas-burning capacity by 2050 by asking the NCUC to approve up to 11,700 MW more gas. That’s over twice as much as any US utility plans to build. Duke claims those plants might be converted to burning hydrogen by the 2040s, while admitting the technology is questionable.
Other parties offered alternatives to Duke’s plan that accomplished the decarbonization goals with no new gas and with more solar, wind, energy storage, and efficiency programs – including more solar-plus-storage close to where power is used. Those plans create many more jobs, rate protections and relief to the communities being hammered by climate crises and by Duke Energy’s fossil fuel pollution.
Duke Energy is required to obtain permits from the NCUC before it actually builds any more gas-fired power plants. NC WARN and others have vowed to vigorously oppose those applications.