Solar cuts, massive new fossil fuel plans leave Duke speeding headlong AWAY from “clean energy transition”
The state carbon plan published very late on December 30 is being widely criticized for many reasons. Now, it has become clear that instead of adding large amounts of solar power – as Duke Energy greenwashers have claimed for the past year – the plan would greatly reduce the pace at which the state is adding new solar, at least through 2029 and possibly much longer.
Duke Energy had sought to limit new solar put onto the grid each year to 750 megawatts for five years even though the statewide average in recent years has been 1,000 MW and reached a high of 1,200 MW in 2017. The NC Utilities Commission’s carbon plan made the problem worse by extending a de facto cap on new solar at 770 MW through 2029.
Even Duke Energy hints that the cap could extend well beyond 2029 (Appendix P of Duke application, pp 20-21) because lifting it hinges on building billions of dollars of new – and surely controversial – transmission projects through rural communities. Duke even cites needing “new rights of way”, which often requires using eminent domain taking of property just as Duke attempted in its Atlantic Coast Pipeline failure.
The NCUC’s order was structured in a way that fogged the solar cap issue, thus allowing Duke Energy to continue claiming it’s “transitioning to clean energy.”
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. As 45 scientists recently told 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.
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 of new gas. That’s apparently more than twice as much as any US utility plans to build.
The commission did nothing to challenge Duke’s 2050 gas goal, and it went along with the corporation’s plan to file applications for two new gas-fired plants this year and likely a third in 2024.
Communities being slammed by climate disasters deserve far better from state officials across the political spectrum who have deferred to Duke Energy for too many decades.