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NC regulators begin hearings on Duke Energy carbon reduction plan

Coal at the Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman is seen in 2016. The bill calls on state regulators to draw up a plan for closing and replacing coal-fired power.
David Boraks
Coal is piled at Duke Energy's Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman is seen in 2016.

North Carolina utility regulators will hold public hearings around the state beginning this week on Duke Energy's proposed plan for cutting carbon emissions from energy generation.

Last year's energy reform law, House Bill 951, requires the North Carolina Utilities Commission to adopt a plan by year's end that helps meet the state's climate goal of phasing out carbon emissions by 2050. Specifically, it calls for reducing carbon emissions 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero carbon by 2050.

Energy production is the No. 2 source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change in both North Carolina and nationwide. Scientists say we need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. We're already at +1.1 degrees Celsius.

In May, Duke filed a plan with multiple options for closing all its coal plants, adding natural gas-fired plants, and expanding renewable and nuclear energy. It's up to the North Carolina Utilities Commission to decide how to proceed.

The in-person hearings begin Monday at 7 p.m. in Raleigh and continue Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Wilmington. Additional hearings are planned July 27 in Asheville and July 28 in Charlotte. And virtual hearings are scheduled on Aug. 23.

More at https://www.ncuc.net/Consumer/carbonplan.html

See Duke's plan at Duke-Energy.com

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