Seven mayors and a County Commission Chairwoman representing local governments and communities across North Carolina submitted a letter to the N.C. Utilities Commission (NCUC), sharing comments and recommendations regarding the state’s Carbon Plan, which must be developed and approved by December 31, 2022. The Town of Boone, Town of Chapel Hill, Chatham County, City of Durham, City of Greensboro, Town of Hillsborough, Town of Matthews, and the City of Raleigh all signed onto the letter, which was filed as part of the formal record with the NCUC. The NCUC recently held its final public hearings on the Carbon Plan this month (view the recording). Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger spoke during the afternoon hearing, referencing the letter. The Commission is also scheduled to begin an expert witness hearing on September 13, which may last several weeks.
“We have a history of partnering with Duke Energy on energy programs that benefit our residents, businesses, and local government operations,” the local government leaders wrote to Commissioners. “We look forward to and are committed to working with Duke and the NC Utilities Commission to enable the solutions outlined in this letter that we believe will accelerate a more affordable, clean, equitable, resilient, and reliable energy system. Through continued partnership, we can demonstrate to both North Carolinians and the nation what collaborative clean energy leadership looks like.”
“High energy costs are a major contributor to economic insecurity, and many low-income North Carolinians also suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change and power plant pollution,” they added. “As some of the utilities’ largest customers and good stewards of taxpayer money, we are acutely aware of the role that clean energy investments can play in keeping costs reasonable and predictable over the long-term, hedging against volatile fuel prices, and delivering significant economic benefits in terms of ratepayer costs as well as public and environmental health, resilience, and other non-energy benefits.”
Among the priorities for the NCUC to evaluate in developing and approving the Carbon Plan, the local governments highlighted the need for the Commission to require Duke Energy to:
- Improve energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM) programs to help local governments and other ratepayers address affordability and climate concerns.
- Retire and replace coal power plants with clean energy portfolios to improve public health outcomes and reduce ratepayer costs.
- Run an all-source, competitive solicitation to procure all new generation sources and determine the best replacement resources.
- Increase the renewable energy procurement opportunities available to all customers, including a more efficient and predictable interconnection process.
- Value and encourage the development of distributed energy resources (DERs) and build community resilience through the use of DERs.
- Prioritize and maximize tested technologies that are commercially viable before relying on unproven technologies that carry high risks for ratepayer dollars.
In addition to the eight local government leaders who signed and submitted the letter, three local governments (Asheville and Buncombe County jointly, and Charlotte) have formally intervened in the NC Utilities Commission’s Carbon Plan proceeding and Durham County previously submitted its own letter to the Commission and its Sustainability Manager testified at the Public Hearing in Durham on July 11.