The Sierra Club released a groundbreaking report and research tool today highlighting Duke Energy’s continued failures to invest in clean energy. The Dirty Truth Report grades utilities based on its plans to retire coal plants, stop building new gas plants, and invest in clean energy - allowing readers to judge each utility’s climate progress based on its stated carbon reduction goals and how that compares to what science actually demands.
In this third version of the report, Sierra Club investigated what progress, if any, has been made since the last utility report card.
Duke Energy is a disappointing example. While noting that "our country is at a critical point in addressing the impact of climate change," Duke has committed to retire just 30% of its coal generation by 2030, and its subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) intend to build about 4,000 MW of new gas plants by 2030, about 3,500 MW of new gas after 2030, and reducing its plans for clean energy buildout.
"Duke Energy continues to plan and do business as usual, pushing to expand and double down on methane gas, which will force communities across the state into long-term obligations for new polluting infrastructure," Mikaela Curry, Sierra Club field manager, said.
"Instead of shifting its focus in a meaningful way to a much larger renewable energy buildout that would benefit customers and protect our air and water, Duke remains committed to this massive gas buildout, and continues to fail to plan in the best interest of our communities."
Despite public claims from Duke Energy that it's taking bold action to address the climate crisis, the utility has the second-most planned new methane-spewing gas build outs of any U.S. utility, according to a wide-ranging analysis by the Sierra Club.
Duke Energy received a "D" for its plans to transition to clean energy. While this is an improvement from previous years, Duke still scores below the average utility and has not fully incorporated the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into its most recent plans, leaving Duke with a long way to go. Of its subsidiaries, Duke Energy Carolinas received an "F" while Duke Energy Progress received a "D."
This analysis is based on Duke Energy’s 2022 Carbon Plan due to data cutoff for the report. Recently, the utility released its latest proposed plan to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution from electricity generation. Coming just one year after the clean energy provisions of the landmark IRA were signed into law by the Biden administration, Duke Energy’s plan does not do enough to fully take advantage of the new incentives for renewable energy under federal law.
"Duke’s refusal to use all the tools in the toolbox that would lead the transition toward a clean renewable energy economy is a slap in the face for the communities who will bear the brunt of significant rate hikes and polluting infrastructure," Curry said.