Environment

Despite the moratorium, Duke Energy moving ahead on wind energy plans

(Illustration: Creative Commons)

Although Sen. Harry Brown put an 18-month kibosh on new wind farms in North Carolina, Duke Energy Carolinas announced it’s looking to buy 500 megawatts of wind energy by the end of 2022. The utility issued a Request for Proposals this week.

Duke Energy spokesman Randy Wheeless said that the utility had been working on the RFP for months, and the wind moratorium did not change its timing. The moratorium was inserted at the last-minute by Sen. Brown into House Bill 589, which originally focused solely on solar power.

In fact, if politics stymies the growth of wind power in North Carolina, Duke Energy could bypass the state entirely and import wind power from elsewhere. In 2011 and 2012, Duke Energy Carolinas purchased wind capacity from a farm in North Dakota. “If the price is attractive enough, it can be wheeled from faraway states,” Wheeless said. “That’s the purpose of the RFP — to see what the market looks like.”

According to the RFP, bidders could sell wind power to Duke Energy; build a new wind farm, which Duke would then buy, or sell the utility an existing facility.

Under the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, investor-owned utilities like Duke must purchase or generate 6 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. That amount increases to 10 percent next year and 12.5 percent in 2021.

Since the wind power won’t be delivered until 2022, that won’t help Duke meet its REPS requirements. However, Wheeless said that the utility is on track to meet those benchmarks even without wind

Duke already owns 20 wind farms nationwide, generating in total about 2,500 megawatts of power, equivalent to the amount of electricity for half a million homes.

 

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