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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Duke Energy to offer regulators options on carbon reduction

Duke Energy says its carbon reduction plan will include battery storage, like this battery site in Asheville.
Duke Energy
Duke Energy says its carbon reduction plan will include battery storage, like this battery site in Asheville.

Duke Energy will present North Carolina utility regulators with a plan Monday for shifting away from fossil fuels. Actually, it's expected to be not just a single plan, but several plans.

Duke Energy's carbon reduction plan is part of a process set up by last year's state energy reform law. The law calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from energy production by 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and eliminating them altogether by 2050 to fight global warming. That includes closing the remainder of Duke Energy's coal-fired generating plants in North Carolina.

CEO Lynn Good told Wall Street analysts last week that Duke Energy will offer the North Carolina Utilities Commission multiple scenarios:

"We're going to present a range of options on the 70% reduction," Good said. "And then that will be the subject of public hearings and review by the commission. And ultimately, it would be the commission's decision on pace, technologies, price implications, etc."

Duke Energy Chief Financial Officer Steve Young said last week the plans will call for a combination of generation sources.

"Ultimately you're going to see renewables, battery storage, some gas as well as onshore (and) offshore, wind, solar, etc.," he said. "Those are the types of resources that are going to be necessary to get the 70% reductions."

Environmental groups are watching closely to see how heavily Duke Energy's plans rely on natural gas and whether they speed up the adoption of renewable energy.

"I hope that when we are reviewing the plans that we see a lot of differences from Duke's last IRP (integrated resource plan) filing," said Michelle Allen of the Environmental Defense Fund. "Namely, that includes transitioning strongly away from fossil fuels. So not adding new natural gas systems, but really focusing on demand-side resources, like energy efficiency that can reduce demand, paired with clean energy and storage."

Some groups also are concerned that Duke Energy might seek to push back deadlines for meeting the goals of North Carolina's 2021 energy reform law.

The utilities commission plans public hearings this summer and regulators have until year's end to approve a final plan.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.