Duke’s New Plan Could Mean Rising Emissions and Soaring Electric Bills

Duke’s New Plan Isn’t Just Bad For The Climate, It’s Bad For Its Customers

Duke Energy wants North Carolina families to pay much higher electric bills, while it builds polluting and overpriced new power plants and abandons a key climate action goal.

Last year, Duke submitted a “carbon plan” which weaseled out of committing to genuine reductions in carbon pollution. Last week, its updated proposal would drop key clean energy goals, and instead stick families with the soaring costs of its bad-business-as-usual strategy. Duke’s disastrous proposal came in its amended filing with the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) of its “Carbon Plan and Integrated Resource Plans.” 

In its proposed plan, Duke would build a new natural gas power plant in Person County, and three “small modular” nuclear reactors in Stokes County. The costs of those two projects would drive up average monthly electric bills for Duke Energy Progress customers by a hefty 39%, and Duke Energy Carolinas customers by a whopping 73%. 

Rising Emissions

“The updated Carbon Plan once again relies too heavily on fossil gas, nuclear, and expensive infrastructure that our state does not need,” said Michelle (Meech) Carter, the Clean Energy Campaigns Director for NCLCV. “Just two years ago in December of 2022, Winter Storm Elliott caused fossil gas plants to fail while renewables kept supporting our grid. However, Duke’s updated plan calls for multiple new gas plants across the Carolinas. While their new addition of offshore wind resources is commendable, Duke Energy’s buildout of renewable energy is insufficient for the Carolinas’ energy future.” 

Carter added, “Duke has dragged its feet on reliable and renewable energy like solar and wind in favor of profits for its shareholders. This updated Carbon Plan is no exception. We will see a slower transition to wind, solar, and battery storage, while North Carolina ratepayers suffer more price increases. Duke’s CEO was given a 30% raise this last year, with a total salary of over $21 million. NCUC should stand for the protection of the people, not the profits of a few.”

“This plan is tripling down on the coal-to-gas transition, saddling customers with risky investments in new polluting power plants and failing to deliver the clean energy future called for in state law,” said Will Scott, Southeast Climate & Clean Energy Director for the Environmental Defense Fund. 

In the process of this backwards approach, Duke would skip out on its legal obligation to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Instead, it proposes extending that target to 2035, or maybe 2037. Does Duke Energy regard actual climate goals as mirages, which slip ever farther away as we move forward?

Duke Fails Carolina’s, but Renewable Energy Wins in Other States

Meanwhile, notoriously pro-Big Oil Texas has just set a new record for solar energy generation. On a cold, clear winter day, solar energy provided over 36% of the power on its state electric grid. The state is expected to blow past that record this coming summer.  And in Virginia, Dominion Power has just received the final federal permits for its huge new offshore wind farm.

In contrast, Duke Energy should be ashamed of itself. The NC Utilities Commission should send Duke back to the drawing board for a new plan—one which taps the power of the sun, wind, and battery storage to provide clean and affordable electricity.

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