Yesterday morning, Greenpeace activists Madhura Deshpande, Mike Karnosky, Holly Hanks and I attended the Triangle Business Journal’s Power Breakfast with Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, the largest electric utility in the country.
This was Mr. Rogers’ first public appearance in the Triangle since the completion of the massive merger with Progress Energy. We asked Mr. Rogers directly about how he could justify asking North Carolina families to pay much more than they do to fund Duke Energy building new dirty coal and nuclear plants. He avoided the question and tried to make it sound like they were doing more than they are with renewable energy.
Duke Energy’s recently filed Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the Carolinas only envisioned 4 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable energy, despite a higher legal requirement in North Carolina. Not only does Duke’s plan not do nearly enough to invest in solar and wind, it also calls for building new dirty coal plants and nuclear plants here in North Carolina. If Duke builds those plants, they will have to raise rates on North Carolinians each year for the next 20 years in order to fund those plants. Compared to that plan, Duke could increase its energy from solar and wind to 33 percent and embrace energy efficiency and save North Carolina families $108 billion through 2032.
During the question and answer session, Mr. Rogers touted his commitment to clean energy and keeping rates low. Specifically he said that
- He will “work as hard as we can to minimize the amount of the [rate] increase”
- He “sees renewable business as a good business decision”
- “Innovation is the key to our country getting its mojo back”
But his rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Below is just a sampling of a reality for Duke Energy.
- Duke’s existing plants spews tens of millions of tons of toxic pollutants in NC (Duke-Progress: 56.4m short tons CO2, 60,569 tons SO2, 37,558 tons NOx).
- Two new coal plants in North Carolina and Indiana.
- At least one new nuclear plant in South Carolina and a proposed expansion of the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina.
We need Duke to change its energy mix – to increase renewable energy generated in state, make this state more energy efficient and in turn, save ratepayers over $100 billion. Our report, Charting the Correction Course, shows that Duke can do just that. But it is up to Jim Rogers to change the direction that Duke is heading in. Tell Jim Rogers that his rhetoric doesn’t match Duke’s reality and that he should follow his own advice and ‘be courageous’ and be clean.