Major North Carolina Employers: State Regulators Must Adopt Stronger Plan for Power Sector
A dozen major companies are pressing the North Carolina Utilities Commission to ensure Duke Energy has a strong plan in place to support the state’s climate targets and expand the clean energy economy to benefit communities across the state.
August 23, 2022 /3BL Media/ - Major employers and trade organizations in North Carolina are releasing a letter to the North Carolina Utilities Commission today, urging the commission to adopt a multi-year plan for Duke Energy that ensures the state will meet its legally mandated goals to significantly reduce climate pollution from the power sector while expanding the state’s market share in the rapidly growing U.S. clean energy economy.
The sustainability nonprofit Ceres will submit the letter to the commission on behalf of the 13 signatories during a virtual public hearing on the new state Carbon Plan today. Most of the signatories are customers of Duke Energy and believe the Carbon Plan proposal put forth by the utility falls short of effectively meeting the state’s climate targets.
The signatories are Biogen, Burt’s Bees, Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, DSM, Earth Equity Advisors, EQ Research, Gaia Herbs, National Association of Energy Service Companies, Nestlé, New Belgium Brewing, Novozymes, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and Unilever.
“Duke’s proposed Carbon Plan misses several opportunities for emissions reductions, customer cost savings and statewide economic development benefits, and does not meet statutory requirements,” they wrote in the letter.
Under a 2021 state law that established legal commitments to reduce electric sector climate pollution 70% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the North Carolina Utilities Commission is required to approve a plan to guide Duke Energy’s shift to a cleaner power grid that meets those targets.
In the letter, signatories noted several shortfalls in Duke's proposals and called on the Carbon Plan to:
- Better prioritize energy efficiency measures, which are the lowest-cost strategy to reduce climate pollution;
- Rely more aggressively on renewable energy deployment, especially offshore wind;
- End reliance on coal and new natural gas beyond 2030, as well as unproven technologies that have yet to prove affordable, effective, or feasible at scale;
- Prevent Duke’s build-out of fossil fuel facilities in South Carolina to count as a strategy to meet the North Carolina targets;
- Invest in a workforce development plan to build the skilled labor force the future of the power industry will require, and to help those working in fossil fuels adjust to the clean energy industry.
The letter also notes several concerns related to modeling, forecasts, and estimates in Duke’s proposals.
Large North Carolina employers were strong advocates for the state to pass robust climate and clean energy law in 2021. The Utilities Commission current review and approval process represents the next step toward implementing the law and achieving its goal, which is why the business community continues to press for solutions that help them achieve their climate goals and grow the North Carolina economy.
“This summer, the U.S. is celebrating major progress in building a sustainable and robust clean energy economy. States that fail to adopt the bold plans that leading companies are calling for will risk falling behind,” said Hugh Welsh, president and general counsel, DSM North America. “Major North Carolina employers like DSM North America expect to see state policy that supports strong clean energy deployment and builds the skilled workforce this transition requires. The Utilities Commission must approve a Carbon Plan that meets that level of ambition.”
“Nestlé is committed to procuring 100 percent of its resources from competitively procured clean energy resources to help us reduce energy costs, avoid volatility of fossil fuel prices, and stay competitive during the energy transition," said Megan Villarreal, manager of policy and public affairs, Nestlé. "We strongly support North Carolina's efforts to build a cleaner power sector and hope the Utilities Commission seizes this opportunity to help the state and its businesses work together to achieve our collective goals."
“As a Duke Energy customer and partner in North Carolina – and a company deeply invested in providing quality beers and quality jobs – we look to Duke as a key ally in climate action,” said Jay Richardson, Asheville general manager, New Belgium Brewing. “We urge the Utilities Commission to hold Duke Energy to the higher standard that ensures North Carolina can move forward aggressively to meet its climate goals, embrace the job-creating clean energy economy, and protect the future prosperity of families across our state.”
The Utilities Commission has been hearing public testimony throughout the summer and is required to finalize a plan by the end of 2022.
“Companies know that strong state policies are the best way to help them meet their clean energy and climate goals and protect their businesses from the risks of climate change while growing the economy,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior director of state policy, Ceres. “North Carolina law requires the state to make significant progress in cleaning up the power sector this decade. Now is the opportunity for the Utilities Commission to ensure Duke Energy meets that level of ambition and benefits companies, communities, and households across the state.”
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.
Media Contact: Helen Booth-Tobin