Groups argue that Duke units in North Carolina need more renewables

The Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Progress Energy Carolinas units of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) should be ordered to more completely consider renewable energy within their 2012 integrated resource plans (IRPs) and Renewable Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) compliance plans.

That was the contention of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC) in Sept. 9 comments filed at the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Also on Sept. 9, the Duke Energy subsidiaries filed arguments with the commission on why their latest IRPs should be approved.

In mid 2012, Duke Energy took over Progress Energy Carolinas in its merger with Progress Energy, but the 2012 IRPs had been mostly written by that point and so were filed separately with the commission.

The coalition said that Duke Energy Carolinas is projecting 970 MW of renewable generation by 2021, with 324 MW of that from wind. But it doesn’t indicate where this 324 MW will come from, the coalition said.

Progress Energy Carolinas (which underwent a name change since this case began to Duke Energy Progress), on the other hand, said it has an open request for proposals for non-solar renewables of up to 10 MW, and does not show any wholesale power deals for wind, the coalition said.

To meet regulatory standards, these two utilities need to add much more information about the renewable energy they plan to get out over the next few years and where that capacity will come from, the coalition said.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) on Sept. 9 filed its own comments with the commission, praising the two Duke subsidiaries for energy efficiency and renewable energy progress so far, but saying that they both need to do more in both areas. The alliance said the utilities, for example, need to go beyond REPS minimums for renewables and create long-term plans for renewable energy development.

The commission staff on Sept. 9 filed its proposed order for approvals of the IRPs. The proposed order noted major strides for the utilities on renewables. For example, it said that in the 2011 IRP case, Duke Energy Carolinas was only projecting 51 MW of new solar by 2021 and 92 MW by 2031. In this latest IRP, Duke Energy Carolinas is projecting 538 MW of new solar by 2021 and 1,004 MW by 2032, which is consistent with applications filed with the commission by solar developers for such projects. On the other hand, Duke Energy Carolinas is projecting a much lower level of new biomass-fired additions in the future due to uncertainty about permitting requirements for these facilities.

Duke Energy Progress wasn’t as detailed on its renewable capacity additions, but is projecting 208 MW from renewable energy qualifying facilities (QFs) in 2021 and 210 MW from renewable QFs in 2027. In its 2011 IRP, it had been projecting only 176 MW from these types of facilities in 2021 and 39 MW in 2026.

Notable is the commission staff order also addresses the latest IRP of Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion North Carolina Power.

In their Sept. 9 filing with the commission, the Duke utilities said they will meet REPS requirements through various means, including allowed energy efficiency initiatives, purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and getting power from outside power projects.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.