January 30, 2023
North Carolina Clean Energy Advocates Give State Carbon Plan a Failing Grade
On Dec. 30, 2022, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) issued an order establishing the state’s first Carbon Plan. Unfortunately, the NCUC adhered closely to a proposal by Duke Energy that continued to put profit before people and our environment. The Commission ignored alternative proposals that were submitted by intervenors which would meet North Carolina’s statutory emission reduction goals and cost less for the North Carolinians Duke Energy serves. The final carbon plan puts goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 in jeopardy. The NCUC has failed the people of North Carolina.
The People Power NC coalition graded the NCUC’s decision against the 12 Principles for a Carbon Plan in the public interest, which was released early last year. “The purpose of creating these twelve principles was to provide the NCUC a roadmap toward a resilient, equitable, clean energy future for North Carolinians,” says Jake Duncan, Regulatory Director, Southeast for Vote Solar. “It is disappointing that the NCUC chose to not listen to public input and move forward with an almost entirely Duke-driven plan that actively opposes the interests of the public.”
Duke’s carbon plan received failing grades in 5 of 12 criteria, including its inability to set an ambitious timeline for coal plant closure and reducing reliance on costly fossil fuels. In fact, the final carbon plan greenlights extending the life of multiple coal-fired power plants beyond what is necessary and it makes additional new investments in fossil gas.
“The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters believes the initial carbon plan is a failure overall because it doesn’t provide the cheapest and most reliable path to carbon reduction — clean solar and wind energy with battery storage. Instead of relying on Duke Energy’s claims that it needs to build more gas-fired plants to best serve the people of North Carolina, the NC Utilities Commission should look at the facts,” says Robin Smith, Director of Policy and Enforcement with North Carolina League of Conservation Voters. “Duke Energy failed us with its dependence on gas and coal that proved unreliable in extreme weather and resulted in rolling blackouts statewide at Christmas. Duke Energy’s primary interest is serving their stockholders, not the people of NC or our climate. NCLCV hopes the Utilities Commission won’t allow Duke Energy to ignore their record or the growing case for affordable, reliable clean energy in the next round of this plan.”
The report card also criticizes the plan’s lack of urgency regarding climate issues directly affecting North Carolinians, noting “if the NCUC truly wants to ensure that our energy decisions are ‘reasonable and prudent,’ it should quickly phase out fossil fuels and make a much more robust and rapid commitment to renewables, battery storage, and energy efficiency.”
People Power NC has criticized the NCUC for ceding authority to Duke Energy, rather than shouldering responsibility for the carbon plan’s development. “The commission’s carbon plan ruling was disappointing in that it failed to take account of the comments, concerns and robust suggestions presented by intervenors and members of the public,” says Maddy Koch, Energy Democracy Field Coordinator with Appalachian Voices. “It was especially disappointing that the commission allowed Duke Energy to continue planning to build increasingly expensive and unreliable methane gas plants just days after these fuels contributed to rolling blackouts across Duke’s territories.”
“With its Carbon Plan, the North Carolina Utilities Commission ceded its authority to Duke Energy. In so doing, the NCUC failed in its responsibilities to the residents of North Carolina and beyond,” says Jerome Wagner, lead organizer for 350 Charlotte. “More important than what the plan does is what it fails to do. The present plan fails to guarantee attainment of the legislated 2030 goal. It fails to prioritize urgent deployment of existing renewable generation over reliance on “imaginary technology” which might be available in the future. It fails to avoid the build-out of new fossil gas generation. It fails to make use of supplemental generation opportunities such as residential rooftop solar and community solar. And it fails to advance equity and environmental justice.”
The People Power NC coalition is keeping their eyes on developments with Duke Energy and the NCUC, working to ensure future iterations of the North Carolina carbon plan include significant improvements. The NCUC has requested that Duke Energy prepare a new draft of the Carbon Plan, in conjunction with its Integrated Resource Plan (now referred to as the CPIRP) by September 1 of this year. While we are yet again disappointed that Duke Energy will have the first say, we are counting on the NCUC, after listening to the public and the many intervenors, to have the last word, and provide a safe, reliable, resilient, least cost, clean energy future for us all.
June 15, 2022
Duke Energy’s Proposed Carbon Plan Receives Failing Grades from Advocates
Report card criticizes proposed fossil gas buildout, lack of equity considerations
Duke Energy, the investor-owned utility that serves more than 3.5 million North Carolina residents, filed its draft plan this May, in compliance with a mandate by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). The final carbon plan will serve as the state’s roadmap for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Duke’s carbon plan received failing grades in eight of 12 criteria, including setting an ambitious timeline for coal plant closure and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. In its plan, the company proposes extending the life of multiple coal-fired power plants and making additional investments in fossil gas. “Coal and fracked gas aren’t only uneconomic and risky to ratepayers’ wallets – they’re harmful to our climate and to the health and well-being of our communities,” says Mikaela Curry, senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the Carolinas. “Prioritizing expensive and polluting energy sources at the expense of clean, renewable ones is, frankly, unacceptable.”
The report card also criticizes Duke’s failure to consider bill affordability and environmental justice. The coalition points out that communities located near polluting power plants face greater economic and health burdens, and argues that “the carbon plan should be designed with significant input from the communities who have been harmed most by an energy system run on fossil fuels: communities with higher percentages of people of color and low-to-moderate income households.” In contrast, Duke’s Environmental Justice stakeholder process consisted of a single meeting, with only a handful of utility-selected stakeholders in attendance.
The People Power NC coalition graded Duke’s proposal against the 12 Principles for a Carbon Plan in the Public Interest, which they released earlier this year. “Our goal in developing these principles was to show what an equitable, people-centered carbon plan could look like,” says Lindsey Hallock, Southeast Senior Regional Director at Vote Solar. “When it comes to achieving our emissions goals, process and intentionality matter. It’s unfortunate that Duke’s draft plan doesn’t incorporate feedback from communities who have the most to gain from a just carbon plan.”
People Power NC continues to make the case that the state’s final carbon plan must be the responsibility of the NCUC, not Duke Energy. “House Bill 951 makes clear that the carbon plan rests firmly on the shoulders of the Utilities Commission,” says Cathy Buckley, Director of Statewide Organizing with North Carolina’s Alliance to Protect our People and the Places We Live. “Duke may have chosen to prioritize the status quo, but the NCUC still has the opportunity — and the obligation — to develop a carbon plan that serves the best interests of Carolina communities.”
The NCUC has scheduled six public hearings this summer, with a final carbon plan due to be released by the end of the year. On Wednesday, June 22 at 6 p.m., the People Power Coalition will host a training webinar for members of the public interested in advocating for a modern and fossil-free energy system for North Carolina. Press are invited to attend.
Clean Energy Advocates Outline Vision for North Carolina Carbon Plan
12 principles emphasize need for accelerated, equitable clean energy transition
Raleigh, NC – People Power NC, a coalition of clean energy and social justice organizations, released 12 principles that the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) should consider when crafting its carbon plan for the state. Under House Bill 951, which was signed into law in October 2021, the NCUC must develop a roadmap for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
People Power NC’s report includes a call for strong investments in renewable energy sources like solar, a 2030 closure deadline for coal plants, and the exclusion of any new gas infrastructure. “When it comes to fossil gases like methane, the science is incredibly clear,” says Sally Robertson, Policy Coordinator at NC WARN. “Methane from gas operations will set our progress back, at a time when we urgently need to move forward. We have the tools we need to decarbonize. Now, it’s a matter of scaling them up and making the necessary investments.”
The principles also focus on the planning process itself, highlighting the need for inclusivity, transparency, and accessibility. “The carbon plan is going to impact every household and community in the Tar Heel State,” says Ethan Blumenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of Good Solar. “It’s vital that folks understand the important role they play and feel empowered to engage with this process.” The report specifically asserts that environmental justice communities — those overburdened by fossil fuel pollution and disproportionately high energy bills — must have their voices heard.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the North Carolina Utilities Commission to move us toward a thriving clean energy future that works for everyone,” says Lindsey Hallock, Southeast Senior Regional Director at Vote Solar. “North Carolina has been breaking ground in the south, but we need to build on our momentum, not slow it down. This is no time for the status quo.”
Duke Energy, the investor-owned utility that serves more than 3.5 million North Carolina residents, has been instructed to file a proposed carbon plan with the NCUC this spring. As part of the planning process, Duke is required to hold three stakeholder engagement meetings, the first of which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 25.
The following organizations contributed to and have endorsed the 12 principles for a carbon plan in the public interest:
- Vote Solar
- Good Solar
- NC Alliance to Protect our People and the Places we Live (APPPL)
- 350 Charlotte
- Sierra Club
- North Carolina Justice Center
- North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light
- NC WARN
- Clean Aire NC
- 350 Triangle
- North Carolina Conservation Network
- North Carolina League of Conservation Voters
Contact: Elizabeth Schroeder, Vote Solar, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608.333.5652