INSTITUTE INDEX: NC lets Duke Energy build new climate pollution sources

NCUC members

The North Carolina Utilities Commission recently adopted a state carbon plan that allows Duke Energy to build new sources of climate-disrupting methane pollution, which is an even more intense driver of heating over the short term. The members of the commission, clockwise from top left, are Chair Charlotte Mitchell, ToNola D. Brown-Bland, Floyd B. McKissick Jr., Karen M. Kemerait, Kimberly W. Duffley, Jeffrey A. Hughes, and Daniel G. Clodfelter. (Official NCUC photos.)

Date on which the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) adopted a new carbon plan to meet the requirements of a 2021 state law aimed at reducing climate-disrupting carbon emissions from electric power plants: 12/30/2022

Percent by which the law requires cuts in carbon emissions from Charlotte-based Duke Energy's plants by 2030 from 2005 levels in hopes of preventing dangerous levels of global heating: 70

In November, number of university and former Environmental Protection Agency scientists who wrote to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) — who appointed all seven members of the NCUC — and Duke CEO Lynn Good asking them to cancel plans for "greatly increasing" the use of natural gas for power generation, which the scientists call "entirely indefensible from a climate and public health perspective": 45

Year in which the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 951, which limited carbon emissions from the state's power plants, most of which are operated by Duke, but which did not mention climate-disrupting methane: 2021

Of all the components of so-called "natural gas," which in fact is a highly processed industrial product, percent made up by methane: 70 to 90

Over a 20-year period, number of times more potent a climate heater methane is compared to the carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, a well known driver of dangerous climate disruption: 80

Factor by which actual methane emissions from gas-fired power plants may exceed EPA calculations, according to a 2017 Purdue University study: 2 to 120

Rank of socially vulnerable communities among those most likely to be hurt by potentially dangerous and polluting methane gas infrastructure, according to a recent study led by N.C. State University scientists: 1

Percent of the several generation portfolio options Duke Energy presented to the NCUC that proposed expanding gas use: 100

Under the final plan the NCUC assembled from various suggestions it got from Duke Energy and other stakeholders, megawatts of new gas-fired generation the company is allowed to build: 2,000

Of that total, megawatts that can come from what's known as gas-fueled combined-cycle technology, which uses heat from the initial generation cycle to more efficiently run a second: 1,200

Megawatts of less efficient gas combustion turbine technology the plan allows Duke to build: 800

During a bout of extremely low temperatures on Christmas Eve and during Hanukkah, number of Duke Energy customers across the Carolinas who lost power in rolling blackouts — a first for the company, which attributed them to unforeseen demand and cold-related mechanical failures at coal and gas plants: about 500,000

Date on which Duke testified to the NCUC that it avoided additional blackouts on Christmas because the pumps that replenished its South Carolina hydroelectric reserves were solar-powered and did not experience unplanned outages: 1/3/2023

Just weeks after its massive holiday power failure and official approval of its request to continue investing ratepayers' money in climate-disrupting technology, percent rate hike Duke Energy asked the NCUC to approve: 18

Date on which NC WARN, a climate justice group that was involved in the carbon plan hearings, released a statement condemning what the NCUC approved and vowing to "vigorously oppose" applications for new gas-fired plants: 12/30/2022

Number of applications for new gas plants Duke Energy is expected to file this year: 2

Under House Bill 951, month by which Duke Energy is required to file a new carbon plan with the NCUC, with hearings to begin eight months later: 9/2023

(Click on figure to go to source.)