Press Release

Carbon plan must account for affordability

Appalachian Voices and PSE Healthy Energy submitted testimony today about how Duke’s unnecessary proposed fracked gas expansion would increase costs for customers, and how renewable energy is better for ratepayers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2022

CONTACT
Dan Radmacher, (540) 798-6683, dan@appvoices.org
Rory McIlmoil, (423) 433-9415, rory@appvoices.org
Yunus Kinkhabwala,(607) 262-6952, y.kinkhabwala@psehealthyenergy.org

RALEIGH, N.C. — Today, Appalachian Voices and PSE Healthy Energy submitted a summary of their written testimony to the North Carolina Utilities Commission as a part of the ongoing Carbon Plan proceedings. The organizations’ testimony focused on how Duke’s proposed fracked gas expansion would unnecessarily increase costs for customers, while cleaner, lower-cost options like solar, battery storage and energy efficiency could completely offset the need to build new fracked gas infrastructure in the near term.

Additionally, the testimony focused on how, despite Duke Energy including “affordability” as one of its four core Carbon Plan objectives, the plan lacks substantial investments in programs that lower customer energy demand, such as efficiency or demand response programs, that would enhance affordability for low-income customers while contributing significant carbon reductions and lowering the cost of the energy transition for all ratepayers.

Originally, witnesses from the organizations were going to testify during the evidentiary hearing in person, but all parties involved in the proceeding waived cross examination, avoiding the need for in-person testimony. The summary testimony and in-depth written testimony will be entered into the record of the hearings.

The Carbon Plan process emerged from HB 951, legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2021 that overhauled North Carolina’s energy system and set carbon reduction targets of 70% by 2030, with carbon neutrality by 2050. Since then, various groups and communities from around the state have been engaged in an intensive stakeholder process with Duke Energy to try to craft a plan that would meet the needs of all customers. A wide range of groups including environmental justice advocates, clean energy groups, industrial buyers and ratepayer advocates are pushing back against Duke’s proposed plan.

Appalachian Voices’ testimony and previous filings rely in part on research studies conducted by PSE Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute. Their analysis estimates the potential of demand-side resources, such as efficiency, weatherization and behind-the-meter solar, and the impacts they could have on energy bills for the most financially burdened households.

”Duke’s Carbon Plan lowers emissions by expanding costly generation sources, which will raise rates for all customers and could become stranded assets,” said PSE Healthy Energy Clean Energy Scientist Yunus Kinkhabwala. “By replacing those investments with technology that lowers demand, Duke could meet their carbon goals more quickly and cost-effectively while simultaneously saving their 850,000 neediest customers an average of over $700 each year.”

“For North Carolina to meet its clean energy goals, and do so in a way that prioritizes affordability, we need to make substantial investments in energy efficiency and reducing peak demand,” said Appalachian Voices Senior Energy Analyst Rory McIlmoil. “By directly addressing existing and future affordability challenges for all customers, we can both meet our state’s clean energy goals and improve the economic and public health of North Carolina’s residents. The proposed plan from Duke Energy fails to do this.”

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Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.

PSE Healthy Energy is a nonprofit research institute dedicated to supplying evidence-based scientific and technical information on the public health, environmental, and climate dimensions of energy production and use. We are the only interdisciplinary collaboration focused specifically on health and sustainability at the intersection of energy science and policy. Visit us at psehealthyenergy.org and follow us on Twitter @PhySciEng.

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