Duke Energy released its draft Carbon Plan in May, as required by a bipartisan energy bill passed by the N.C. General Assembly last year. The plan lays out four paths to cut carbon emissions in the coming years.
Climate change is the biggest threat to birds, and getting the Carbon Plan right is one of the most important things we can do in North Carolina to reduce its impacts. As it stands now, the plan is a step in the right direction but, unfortunately, it falls short in several important ways.
Duke’s plan would swap one fossil fuel (coal) for another (natural gas), at a time that we should be phasing out natural gas because of the risks it poses to our climate, local communities, and family pocketbooks.
Natural gas investments require new pipelines, which are increasingly difficult to site, sometimes require the seizure of private lands, and have disproportionate impacts on low-income families and historically marginalized communities.
Natural gas also presents a significant risk to families who will be saddled with soaring energy costs whenever the next national or geopolitical energy crisis occurs. That’s too high a price to pay when we have the option of making more investments in clean energy.
In terms of emissions, ramping up natural gas puts our progress on climate change in jeopardy. Gas pipelines and facilities are leaky, releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Another omission from the plan is any mention of how to make our energy transition just and equitable, or how to help people who struggle most to pay their electric bills.
These are significant problems that need to be fixed. But it’s also worth noting that the plan itself represents a significant change in the conversation on climate and clean energy in North Carolina.
Even just a year ago, solar, wind and battery storage were not front and center for Duke. Thanks to Audubon advocates and people across the state who spoke up for climate solutions, lawmakers passed House Bill 951, which requires the utility to transition to clean energy and make deep, fast cuts in emissions.
Audubon’s vision is a clean energy economy that reduces the climate impacts for birds and people, and we’re working on several fronts to make that happen. We’re advocating for responsible offshore wind energy on the North Carolina coast, and will be speaking up to make the Carbon Plan better.
One of the first opportunities to weigh in and help hold Duke Energy accountable is a series of public forums held this summer, where stakeholders and ratepayers (you and me) will be able to comment on the plan. Learn more about ways to get involved by signing up for our Advocacy Updates.
Public forum schedule:
7/11/2022 - 7:00pm Durham County Courthouse, Courtroom D7, 510 S Dillard St, Durham
7/12/2022 - 7:00pm New Hanover County Courthouse, Courtroom 317, 316 Princess St, Wilmington
7/27/2022 - 7:00pm Buncombe County Courthouse, Courtroom 1-A, 60 Court Plaza, Asheville
7/28/2022 - 7:00pm Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Courtroom 5350, 832 E 4th St, Charlotte
8/23/2022 - 1:30pm Remote Via Webex
8/23/2022 - 6:30pm Remote Via Webex