A Cleaner Future for Duke Energy?

While the debate rages on about the Duke-Progress merger and the NC Legislature becomes more determined to create a dirty energy policy for our state, another course is being charted – one that does not involve fracking, offshore drilling, coal-fired power plants or more nuclear power.

© Greenpeace, David Sorcher, 2012

A new report by Greenpeace, using modeling data from Ventyx, shows that Duke Energy could source one-third of its electricity by 2020 from a combination of energy efficiency, solar and wind power, saving North and South Carolina ratepayers $108 billion through 2032.

Instead, since 2007 Duke has spent little on renewable energy – just $2.5 billion, only a fraction of which has been invested in the Carolinas.

Instead, Duke will charge customers a 7% rate increase that was agreed by the NC Utilities Commission earlier this year.

Instead, Duke is planning massive investments in nuclear and gas fired plants which will result in more rate hike requests.

If the company continues with these bad investments, Ventyx calculates that Carolina ratepayers would see their bills double by 2018, quadruple in 10 years and increase nearly 20 fold by 2032.

The Ventyx report shows that its alternative course for Duke would benefit not only ratepayers, but shareholders, the economy and the planet by:

  • Reducing construction costs and long term debt substantially.
  • Reducing global warming and acid rain pollution as well as smog, with cleaner air.
  • Moving Duke off coal by 2020 and nuclear by 2026.
  • Making Duke a national leader in renewable energy.
  • Protecting the Appalachian Mountains from mountaintop removal for coal mining.
  • Creating thousands of local jobs in renewable energy.

Yet Duke has spent most of its modernization budget $5 billion on fossil fuel investments like the Cliffside coal plant in NC and the Edwardsport coal plant in Indiana, which combined, have cost overruns exceeding $1.5 billion.

North and South Carolina regulators as well as Duke shareholders should read the Ventyx report which details one alternative business strategy for the utility to brighten its dim future.

In other Duke Energy matters: Last week, Duke Energy quietly withdrew a proposed controversial program to refund certain large customers nearly all of the recent 7% rate hike which could have left the rest of the ratepayers subsidizing the refund.  The environmental watchdog, NCWARN, exposed the scheme, pressuring the company to withdraw the unfair plan.

12 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    July 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Imagine how costly it would be on the ratepayers if we did not have coal and nuclear plants! Wind and solar are not cost effective or reliable. Greenpeace is not dealing with reality and to blatantly mislead the public implying that renewable energies are less cost, they should be charged with fraud.

    http://nuclearfissionary.com/2010/04/02/comparing-energy-costs-of-nuclear-coal-gas-wind-and-solar/

    Low energy costs are where we need to be focused. That includes coal, nuclear and natural gas. The direction that Duke is currently headed is towards that goal and we should just tell Greenpeace to go jump in a lake.

  2. Ricky Leung

    July 25, 2012 at 11:22 am

    But I think you are only thinking about short term solutions here. Compared with energy sources like coal and nuclear, wind and solar have not had the same amount of investment of time and research in establishing them as “effective” and “reliable” in the way that coal and nuclear energy are. As with any type of newer technology, the cost of entrance is going to be high because of uncertainties and risks. Even the article you cited admitted that there is limited data on solar energy to provide an accurate comparison. But, even over the past few decades, the cost of solar and wind energy have dropped significantly and they will continue to drop if more people make use of them and R&D make them cheaper and more accessible.

    Investments in long term solutions is where we need to be focused. Costs is not just monetary, it’s also in health, environment, etc.

  3. Frank Burns

    July 25, 2012 at 11:37 am

    You can look at any term and those technologies are not cost effective. If they ever become cost effective some time in the future, then fine we can use them. In the meantime, don’t come to me with a rate increase to pay for increased generation costs associated with solar and wind with some phony justification as we need to become more “green” with energy production. If we want jobs and industry in NC, then we better be keeping the cost of energy low and reliable. When the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, we better have fossil fuel and nuclear ready to go.

  4. Lisa Finaldi

    July 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Remember that the modeling was done by Ventyx, a company that works heavily in the energy sector for many fossil fuel companies, so you will find it difficult to dispute their work. They have no political ax to grind.

  5. Frank Burns

    July 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    The modeling was done by Ventyx based on inputs from Greenpeace and the report was done by Greenpeace. So pardon me if I don’t believe a word from a fanatic environmental organization like Greenpeace. The cost per kw for green energy is pretty straightforward and its not cost effective when compared to coal, nuclear or natural gas. The goals of Greenpeace don’t align with the goals of the ratepayers. That’s like the CBO saying Obamacare will save costs when the Democrats provided all the inputs.

  6. gregflynn

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    So your rebuttal to a report by Ventyx, an ABB company, “the leading enterprise software and service partner for the world’s essential industries” commissioned by a perceived “fanatic environmental organization” is to quote skewed, outdated, information (some sourced from Wikipedia) from the blog of self-confessed nuclear energy fanatics, who don’t care much for fossil fuels either?

    Ventyx’s asset management solution allowed Progress Energy to standardize more than 200 nuclear operational procedures and reengineer more than 250 business processes. Its nuclear operations reduced operating costs, increased net generation, improved safety, and reduced outage durations.

    Progress Energy’s gas turbine fleet integrated its Ventyx solution with real-time performance management software for proactive condition-based maintenance. Users now leverage key performance indicators to monitor plant performance and improve plant efficiencies. As a result, Progress Energy has achieved record performance levels and recognition from leading industry groups.

  7. Frank Burns

    July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Except….. Ventyx didn’t write the report. Greenpeace did. Go back and look at the article. All Ventyx did was do some modeling for Greenpeace based on their skewed criteria.

  8. gregflynn

    July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Written by:
    Michael R. Johnson, Greenpeace Senior Analyst
    Kathy B. Jones, Ventyx Lead Consultant
    Garrick A. Hoops, Ventyx Associate Consultant

  9. James

    July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Don’t confuse Frank with facts.

  10. Frank Burns

    July 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    The study is tainted with Greenpeace involvement and is therefore fraudulent. Look at the cost per kw for each type of energy production and draw your own conclusion.

  11. gregflynn

    July 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    The costs per kwh were contrived from sketchy outdated source and manipulated to make nuclear look good by people who want to make nuclear look good. Solar costs have dropped dramatically in recent years, point of use installations avoid distribution costs and, generation capacity coincides with peak use enabling peak shaving and avoidance of base load capacity expansion.

    This solar array on the roof of the Federal Building in Raleigh is reducing electricity use by 18%.

    Jim Goodnight is no flaming liberal but his company SAS in Cary has acres of solar arrays producing 3.6 million kWh every year.

  12. Frank Burns

    July 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I don’t know Jim Goodnight from Adam but I’m sure I’d be pleased with a solar array courtesy of taxpayer incentives too. There is no business case for solar unless large public subsidies are applied. Nobody around here cares about the taxpayer.