NewsPublic Affairs / May 1, 2019

Environmentalists Call Duke Energy 'Public Energy Enemy No. 1'

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
A Duke Energy substation in Lafayette, 2008.  - Patrick Finnegan/Wikimedia Commons

A Duke Energy substation in Lafayette, 2008.

Patrick Finnegan/Wikimedia Commons

Duke Energy is holding the country back from making a faster transition to renewable energy. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group. It says Duke has focused on coal and natural gas, while neglecting to add many renewable energy sources. 

The report claims the utility has lobbied against clean energy policies at the federal level as well as in Indiana, such as supporting a repeal of higher net metering rates.

“They led the efforts to repeal Indiana’s energy efficiency standards and cancel the Energizing Indiana program," says Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition.

Duke is one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the country. EWG Senior Energy Policy Analyst Grant Smith says if Duke is allowed to have major influence over policies and ratemaking in these states…

“We’ll see a dirty electric system, an unaffordable electric system, and one that actually drives climate change,” he says.

Duke Energy predicts that by 2035, the utility will still be mostly coal-fired. Duke is in the middle of making its next long term plan. Meetings on the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan are open to the public.

Duke Energy released this statement in response to the report:

For more than a decade, Duke Energy has been leading the charge to a cleaner energy future and reducing emissions. Over the past decade, we’ve made significant progress on all fronts – from conservation and energy efficiency to the sustainable use of natural resources and generation of cleaner energy. Due to our efforts, we’ve already reduced carbon emissions by 31% across all the states we serve since 2005 and are working toward a 40% reduction by 2030. Last year, across the states we serve, nearly 38% of the electricity we generated came from carbon-free sources (nuclear, wind, solar, hydro).

We’re one of the nation’s largest renewable energy providers. By year-end, we owned or purchased a total of 7,100 megawatts of wind, solar and biomass. The investments Duke Energy has made to expand its portfolio of renewables, retire less efficient coal- and oil-fired power plants, build highly efficient natural gas generation, and support its zero-CO2 emissions hydropower and nuclear plants have diversified the company’s system and significantly reduced CO2 emissions. And we continue to plan toward a low-carbon, clean energy future that maintains reliability and affordability for customers.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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