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.
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.