North Carolina commission agrees to delay power mandates for animal waste

The North Carolina Utilities Commission on Oct. 17 approved an Aug. 11 motion to modify and delay the 2016 requirements of a swine and poultry power supply set-aside program.

The motion was filed by Duke Energy Carolinas LLC (DEC), Duke Energy Progress LLC (DEP), Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion North Carolina Power, GreenCo Solutions Inc., Public Works Commission of the City of Fayetteville, EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corp., Halifax Electric Membership Corp., the Tennessee Valley Authority, North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) and North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1 (NCMPA1).

They sought commission approval of the following requests:

  • to delay the requirements of North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) requirement for use of swine waste resources until 2017;
  • to modify a REPS requirement for use of poultry waste resources by lowering the 2016 requirement to 170,000 MWh and delaying subsequent increases until 2017;
  • to allow the applicants “to bank any swine and/or poultry renewable energy certificates (RECs) previously or subsequently acquired for use in future compliance years”; and
  • to “allow Joint Movants to replace compliance with the poultry and swine waste requirements in 2016 with other compliance measures.”

The Joint Movants stated that they have individually and collectively made reasonable efforts to comply with the REPS poultry and swine waste resource provisions, and that the relief sought is in the public interest.

The North Carolina Poultry Federation (NCPF), the North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC), the commission’s Public Staff and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) filed comments on the motion.

NCPF, in its comments, stated that it “does not oppose” the portion of the motion about lowering the 2016 compliance requirement to 170,000 MWh and delaying the subsequent increases in compliance requirements until calendar year 2017. NCPF took no position with regard to banking poultry waste RECs and substituting other types of RECs for 2016 compliance purposes. NCPF requested that the commission “continue to monitor the process” and “continue to use its authority to motivate the parties to achieve compliance with the poultry waste set-aside as soon as practicable.”

NCPC said it recognizes the impediments to compliance facing the electric power suppliers and does not oppose the relief requested in the motion. Nevertheless, NCPC stated that it believes that progress continues to be achieved and the modified set-aside requirement should be obtainable in the near term.

In its Oct. 17 decision, the commission found that the state’s electric power suppliers have made a reasonable effort to comply with the 2016 statewide poultry waste set-aside requirement, but will not be able to comply. As with the swine waste set-aside requirement, compliance with the poultry waste set-aside requirement has been hindered by the fact that the technology of power production from poultry waste continues to be in its early stages of development, the commission noted. No party presented evidence that the aggregate 2016 poultry waste set-aside requirement could be met; however, the parties agreed that the 2015 compliance level of 170,000 MWh, if maintained for 2016, can be met. Therefore, the commission found that it is in the public interest to modify the entire requirement for one year. So it addied an additional year (2016) of compliance at the 170,000 MWh threshold, prior to escalating the requirement to 700,00 MWh. “Electric power suppliers should continue to make efforts to comply with the poultry waste set-aside requirements as modified by this Order,” the commission added.

Electric power suppliers will be allowed to bank any swine waste RECs previously or subsequently acquired for use in future compliance years and to replace compliance with the swine waste set-aside requirement in 2016 with other compliance measures, including the use of solar RECs.

These set-asides are particularly an issue in North Carolina due to the heavy reliance of the state’s pig and poultry industries on the use of industrial-size farms, leading to a massive amount of waste from that livestock.

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.