Duke Energy Mulling Fracking Investment
Duke Energy is exploring the option of entering the fracking business. While the company says it has not made any decisions, it would mark a departure from Duke’s usual operations.
Duke Energy generates power and supplies it to customers, but does not participate directly in fossil fuel extraction. Company spokesman Dave Scanzoni says there have been some recent discussions, though, about investing in a fracking site.
“No decision’s been made whether to even move forward on this path,” Scanzoni cautions. “It’s just one option being explored.”
But it could be attractive to Duke. In September, the company announced its investment in a major new interstate natural gas pipeline into North Carolina. Gaining direct ownership of a fracking site, and any natural gas it produces, would secure fuel from the ground to the customer home. Scanzoni says the idea would be to keep costs low.
“All of this is to make sure that we don’t have price spikes in electricity that are related to price spikes in natural gas,” says Scanzoni. “Because now, increasingly, electricity costs are tied to natural gas.”
In its most recent plans to state regulators, Duke projects it will build eight new natural gas plants in the Carolinas in the next 15 years.
In Florida, energy regulators are weighing a proposal from Miami-based Florida Power and Light to let the utility buy into a fracking well, at a cost of $750 million, charged to ratepayers. Critics argue that if the plan is approved, regulators would be allowing utilities to gamble with customer money.