Following 13 days of hearings, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) issued an order Dec. 30 adopting Duke Energy’s initial Carbon Plan. Mirroring North Carolina’s larger decarbonization plan, the goal is to achieve a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions at Duke Energy plants in the state, from 2005 levels by the year 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

The order requires Duke to remodel resource additions to achieve reduction mandates, factoring impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) and other future legislative changes. The utility would need to file a new proposal with NCUC by Sept. 1, 2023, to be considered by the commission in early 2024.

Rather than approve a single, preferred portfolio of generation assets, the commission directed Duke to:

• Conduct two competitive procurements between 2023-2024, targeting 2,350 MW of new solar generation to be placed into service by 2028.

• Procure 1,000 MW standalone battery storage and 600 MW of battery storage paired with solar generation.

• Upgrade necessary transmission facilities to interconnect new solar generation.

• Retire its remaining coal-fired plants, more than 9,000 MW, by 2035.

• Incur project development costs associated with additional pumped storage hydro at the Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station in Oconee County, South Carolina.

• Study and consider the acquisition and development of wind lease areas off the coast of North Carolina.

• Seek to extend the licenses for its existing nuclear fleet and to incur project development costs associated with new nuclear generation.

• Engage with onshore wind stakeholders and economically model utility-owned onshore wind in its next round of modeling.

• Plan for the addition of combustion turbine and combined cycle natural gas-fired generating capacity and address concerns about the availability of firm transmission capacity to North Carolina in future proceedings.

• Develop targeted plans for engaging low-income, minority, and rural communities.

“The emergency outage events this month particularly underscore the need for an orderly transition away from fossil fuels to low and zero carbon dioxide emitting generating resources while maintaining or improving the reliability of the electric grid,” the commission said in a statement.

The law requires the NCUC to review and adjust the Carbon Plan every two years.

A statement from Duke Energy Dec. 30 reads in part:

We believe this is a constructive outcome that advances our clean energy transition, supporting a diverse, ‘all of the above’ approach that is essential for long-term resource planning. We’ve already made incredible progress, retiring two-thirds of our aging coal plants in North Carolina and South Carolina and reducing emissions by more than 40% since 2005 – we will continue this ongoing work of lowering carbon emissions to reduce risk for our customers while balancing affordability and reliability.”

The full carbon plan can be found here.

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