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  • J Scott Lane

Climate Change: Technical Ask for Energy Company

This was the original version of a response to a set of proposals that Duke Energy had issued for dealing with climate change and emission reductions. It was researched and prepared for the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for review by other members of that volunteer organization.

Duke Energy provides most of the electric power used in the Carolinas. On May 16, 2022, Duke announced that it was considering four alternative energy portfolios, with the intention of achieving the 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050, targets legislatively mandated by House Bill 951 in the 2021-2022 session [1], [2].

Only one of four portfolios is expected to make the 70% target by 2030; the others would not achieve that goal until 2032 at the earliest (all four portfolios would achieve carbon neutrality by 2050). In the near term, Duke has proposed measures intended to achieve the 2030 / 70% target, including improving efficiency / reducing consumer demand (3,400MW); increasing solar supply (3,100 MW); hydrogen-capable natural gas capacity increases (2,000 MW); increasing stand-alone battery storage capacity (1,000 MW); and conducting “early development work” for adding 600 MW in onshore wind capacity, 800 MW in offshore wind capacity, and 570 MW of small modular nuclear reactor capacity as well as 1,700 MW in pumped storage.

The CCL’s primary responses are the following: (1) reduce reliance on natural gas capacity increases, especially fracking extraction techniques; (2) increase reliance on renewable technologies and sources; (3) support improvements necessary to the transmission grid to improve efficiency of support for distributed generation; and (4) take advantage of the 5% reduction allowance permitted under state law for verifiable offsets as a “bridge” strategy to accelerate the reduction timeline in the short term.

In a Nutshell: CCL applauds Duke’s willingness to cooperate with the state-mandated emission reduction targets, but we want to emphasize expediency to avoid changes in political will and increasing reliance on those strategies that incorporate efficiencies on the demand side and renewable generation on the supply side. We would ask that Duke publicly support a responsible Carbon Fee and Dividend strategy to help offset the increased consumer costs anticipated from executing any of the energy portfolios.

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