South Carolina energy regulators rejected Duke Energy Corp.’s long-term electricity plan Thursday, an unusual rebuke that could push one of the biggest U.S. utility companies to add more solar and battery storage to the grid.
Meanwhile, some North Carolina Democratic lawmakers, clean energy advocates and consumer groups pushed back against a wide-ranging energy bill that made its legislative debut last week, saying it is too costly and would not do enough to transition Duke’s fleet away from fossil fuels.
The battles come at a time when the Biden administration, North Carolina and Duke have set carbon-neutral targets by 2050. Separately, South Carolina’s electric companies must follow the 2019 Energy Freedom Act, which is aimed at boosting renewables and other CO2-free technologies by requiring major power producers to consider procuring all sources of electricity generation.
“I believe that there’s more work for Duke to do,” said Justin Williams, chair of the South Carolina Public Service Commission, at last week’s business meeting.
The decision last Thursday comes 10 months after Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke filed its integrated resource plan (IRP) with regulators in both North and South Carolina (Greenwire, Sept. 2, 2020).
The IRP is a strategic document that serves as the foundation for other, more specific blueprints for Duke’s electricity mix. Duke operates two electric utilities — Duke Energy Carolina and Duke Energy Progress — in the Carolinas.