Environmental and social justice groups say a new 15-year energy plan filed this month by Duke Energy would bring higher rates and still fall short of addressing climate change.
The nine groups say the Charlotte-based energy giant's integrated resource plan doesn't do enough to keep down costs for low-income customers or to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Tyler Fitch of the group Vote Solar said most of the options outlined in Duke's plan continue to expand the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas.
"We know that by investing in renewable energy, a grid that is both cleaner and cheaper is possible,” Fitch said in a press release. “Duke is setting up a false dichotomy between keeping rates low and achieving climate goals. The truth is that Carolina ratepayers can and should have both.”
Vote Solar isn't alone. Appalachian Voices, Clean Air Carolina, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, MountainTrue, NC WARN, North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina League of Conservation Voters and the North Carolina Conservation Network also all issued statements critical of Duke's plan.
In its filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commssion on Sept. 1, Duke said adding more solar farms and other new technologies would require higher rates.
In an interview, Duke's Glen Snider said adding more renewable energy, retiring coal-fired plants and halting construction of new gas-fired plants could add as much as $50 a month by 2035 to the bill of a typical customer using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity.
He said the 15-year plan "is going to provide policymakers with some of the trade-offs that they were looking for in terms of what's possible and at what cost."
Others expressed concern at the prospect of higher rates.
“Duke makes no attempt to keep costs low for ratepayers in this plan and ignores no-brainer efficiency measures that would benefit low-moderate income customers,” said Josh McClenney of Appalachian Voices.
Eliza Stokes of MountainTrue said Duke's plan doesn't adequately address climate change.
"It is urgent that Duke Energy gets serious about using their power to reach 100% renewable energy in North Carolina in the time frame that climate science requires,” Stokes said.