Duke Power has detailed the varied paths its Carolina utilities might take over the subsequent 15 years, a selection that can decide how shortly Duke cuts its carbon footprint and the way a lot it’ll price.

Duke’s 2020 Built-in Useful resource Plan (IRP), filed Tuesday with state regulators, lays out six situations for reaching its difficult targets of halving its emissions by 2030 and hitting net-zero carbon by 2050. 

The entire situations go effectively past Duke’s earlier IRPs in leaning extra closely on photo voltaic, onshore wind and power storage. The utility has additionally opened the door to offshore wind in its future combine. Duke has already dedicated to doubling its eight gigawatts of renewables by 2025 and to retiring its roughly 10,000 megawatts of coal technology by 2030.

However that is about the place the similarities cease. The six choices Duke is presenting to North Carolina and South Carolina regulators take notably completely different routes for including four,600 megawatts of latest assets to its present 23,200-megawatt technology fleet within the states. That’s how a lot extra capability Duke expects to want within the subsequent 15 years to make up for the retirement of its coal-fired energy plant fleet and getting older pure gasoline vegetation. 

Duke operates utilities in six states and is without doubt one of the nation’s largest unbiased renewable power builders. However Duke Power Carolinas and Duke Power Progress are its greatest vertically built-in utilities, serving a mixed three.2 million residential, industrial and industrial clients within the Carolinas. 

Six pathways, many uncertainties

Whereas Duke has dedicated to reaching web zero over the long run, its nearer-term problem is assembly its 50 p.c carbon discount goal for 2030. The six “pathways” put ahead within the IRP embrace two aimed toward assembly that focus on, and 4 that go even additional. 

The 2 most reasonable situations embrace a “base case” that assumes no worth is placed on carbon poluttion and a “carbon coverage” case that assumes a worth is carried out. Whereas each pathways would greater than halve Duke’s emissions by 2030, they’re however possible to attract hearth from critics of the utility’s cautious method to phasing out fossil-fueled mills. 

Regardless of Duke’s resolution to desert the Atlantic Coast Pipeline mission, which raises questions on the way it will get the pure gasoline provides it’s relying on, the corporate continues to be planning to construct new gasoline vegetation over the subsequent 15 years underneath most of its situations.

The exception to that is the appropriately named “no new gasoline technology” pathway, which might depend on “various, new carbon-free sources and even bigger additions of power storage and offshore wind in addition to the adoption of supportive insurance policies on the state and federal degree,” Duke wrote in its IRP.

The 2 pathways that will yield probably the most dramatic carbon reductions are primarily based on North Carolina’s evolving Clear Power Plan stakeholder course of, which is evaluating coverage choices for chopping emissions 70 p.c by 2030 (on 2005 ranges).

To succeed in such a degree, Duke fleshed out two attainable choices: The primary is a “excessive wind” path that will seize the offshore wind potential of the Carolinas coastal waters, however would require coverage adjustments in each states and elevated funding in provide chain and transmission capability. The second is a “excessive SMR” case reliant on the industrial availability of small modular nuclear reactors over the approaching decade. 

Duke’s IRP was developed over six months of workshops and feedback involving greater than 200 stakeholder teams, starting from energy suppliers and huge power cusotmers to environmental and shopper advocates.

The submitting opens up one other spherical of deliberations by regulators, and is bound to function a flashpoint of debate over whether or not the utilities are correctly balancing the prices of shifting towards a cleaner power system in opposition to the threats of shifting too slowly.

Large development for photo voltaic and storage, attainable function for offshore wind 

Unsurprisingly, the six situations yield considerably completely different projections of renewable power and power storage development over the subsequent 15 years.

Photo voltaic development by 2035 stalls at eight,650 megawatts underneath Duke’s base case, however rises to 12.three gigawatts underneath its carbon coverage case — and as much as 16.four gigawatts underneath its most aggressive situation.

The entire situations are much less reliant on wind energy, which performs little function within the Southeastern U.S. power combine at the moment, though Duke’s most aggressive case sees as much as 2,650 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Iberdrola’s Avangrid holds the rights to a big offshore wind growth zone off North Carolina.

In the meantime, Duke’s “excessive SMR” case would require 1,350 megawatts of small nuclear capability by 2035, and its no new gasoline situation presumes 700 megawatts of this useful resource. 

As for power storage, Duke factors to simply over 1,000 megawatts in its base case, rising to 7.four gigawatts in its no new gasoline situation. That’s extra power storage than exists within the nation at the moment, and way over Duke had beforehand projected constructing.

That “presents elevated system dangers, on condition that there is no such thing as a utility expertise for winter peaking utilities within the U.S. or overseas with operational protocols to handle this scale of dependence on short-term power storage.” 

Trying on the worth tags

Duke represented the prices by way of its affect on the typical month-to-month payments of a residential buyer of Duke Power Carolinas, which now stands at roughly $104. For the less-costly pathways, month-to-month charges would rise a mean of 1.three to 1.5 p.c per yr so as to add between $23 to $25 per 30 days to payments by 2035. For the extra expensive pathways, the rise can be between 2.four to 2.5 p.c per yr so as to add $45 to $47 per 30 days by 2035.

 A giant chunk of the distinction between the 2 ends of the spectrum comes from the relative ranges of latest transmission funding Duke foresees needing. Below its base instances, Duke expects to speculate about $1 billion in transmission over the subsequent 15 years. However within the excessive wind and no new pure gasoline situations, these prices improve to between $7.5 billion and practically $9 billion. 

Duke additionally plans a minimum of 2,050 megawatts of power effectivity and demand response by 2035, and as a lot as three,350 megawatts underneath its extra aggressive carbon discount instances. 

Within the IRP, Duke famous that its more-aggressive pathways “have a higher dependence on know-how developments and projected future price reductions, thus requiring near-term supportive power insurance policies on the state or federal ranges.”

That makes for extra uncertainty, and the potential for even greater prices if regulators select them — the identical circumstances utilities all over the world face as they ponder decarbonizing their energy grids.  

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