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Critics Say Utilities Panel Not Doing Enough to Shape NC Carbon Plan

NC Carbon Plan.jpg
(Photo: Adobe stock photo via Public News Service)
Critics countered the commission is handing the task over to Duke Energy, the utility it's tasked with regulating.

Advocates are contending North Carolina state agencies are not doing enough to slow down the devastating impacts of climate change.

Last year Gov. Roy Cooper signed an energy bill into law, which calls on the state's utilities commission to develop a carbon plan for the state to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 70% below 2005 levels by 2030, and be carbon-free by 2050.

Critics countered the commission instead is handing the task over to Duke Energy, the utility it's tasked with regulating.

Susannah Tuttle, director of North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches, said more than thirty interveners have stepped up to counter Duke's plan, which they argue relies too heavily and for too long on fossil fuels.

"Right now, as a regulated monopoly and a utility, Duke is not really being regulated," Tuttle asserted. "They're doing whatever they want. And it's our time to wake up as North Carolinians, and say, actually, the commission should be regulating you, and this is what we want."

Under the current proposed plan, Duke Energy is seeking approval for all four of its pathways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The path achieves 70% reductions by 2030, and the other pathways achieve the 70% goal between 2032 and 2034, relying on offshore wind and nuclear reactor technologies.

Tuttle pointed out she is concerned Duke's plan relies on building new fossil-fuel infrastructure, including running the Mountain Valley Pipeline and additional fracked gas pipelines throughout the state.

"The North Carolina utility commission has the power to empower and engage the millions of North Carolinians who want to be able to build their wealth, reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and promote justice and equity in our energy system," Tuttle outlined.

Ren Martin, eco-justice connection coordinator for the North Carolina Council of Churches, said the commission should be seeking input on the carbon plan from low-income communities, which will likely be hardest hit by a lack of investment in renewable-energy sources.

"When we talk about energy burden, we're talking about making sure that those who don't have all of the money to really pay for those utilities are having less of a burden for that energy," Martin stated.