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Duke’s New Carbon Plan Protects Profits at Expense of Ratepayers and Climate

Duke’s priorities are clear: profit at the expense of its customers.

Duke Energy last week submitted its proposed update of its Carbon Plan to the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC). Unfortunately, Duke’s Carbon Plan 2.0 features unnecessary and unwise reliance on untested small modular nuclear reactors, as well as continued installation of more polluting and unneeded methane gas facilities—both strategies designed to bolster Duke’s corporate profits at the expense of ratepayers and our climate.

“It’s clear from this new Carbon Plan filing that lowest cost and most reliable service for North Carolinians isn’t Duke Energy’s priority, but rather highest profit and best return for their shareholders, while providing more dirty energy. Duke proposes building more dirty fossil fuel gas plants and expensive, unproven nuclear plants — replacing coal ash with dirty gas and nuclear waste. In a year after Duke made $4.1 billion and their CEO was given a 30% raise and made $21.35 million, they are clearly more concerned about lining their pockets and rewarding their shareholders than weaning themselves off the teat of dirty energy. NC League of Conservation Voters calls on the NC Utilities Commission to stand up for the people of North Carolina, reject this plan, and demand more cheap, reliable, clean energy,” said Dan Crawford, Director of Governmental Relations for the NC League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV).

“[Last week] was the anniversary of the biggest investment in clean energy in US history, the Inflation Reduction Act. Thanks to President Biden, we are seeing an affordable clean energy boom in the US and NC’s economy. Meanwhile, Duke Energy is dragging their feet and heading in the completely wrong direction. North Carolina does not need to reward Duke Energy executives and shareholders for dirty, expensive solutions. We need clean, renewable energy from wind and solar with battery storage to provide the least expensive and most reliable electricity for our state.”

In addition to NCLCV, a coalition of other environmental and clean energy groups released statements criticizing Duke’s plan.

Cassie Gavin, director of policy at the NC Sustainable Energy Association, said, “[The] filing from Duke Energy shows that the utility is prioritizing the interests of shareholders over that of North Carolina customers. Their carbon plan filing is a slap in the face of residents who will bear the brunt of significant rate hikes, largely attributed to the utility’s desire to build costly, unreliable natural gas plants. Groups like NCSEA have already demonstrated that renewables including wind, solar, and storage are the most cost-effective and reliable option to keep rates low and the lights on which should be a top priority for a utility that experienced blackouts at the end of 2022.” Other groups making similar criticisms included the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), and the Sierra Club.

A summary of Duke’s plan and their excuses for it can be found here.

The NCUC will now begin the process of reviewing Duke’s proposed plan and the critiques of it.

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