October 12, 2020 Read More →

Duke Energy announces methane emissions reductions and green energy targets

Utility Dive:

Duke Energy on Friday announced plans to bring its gas operations to net-zero methane emissions by 2030, increase its renewable energy output and retire some of its coal plants earlier than planned.

The utility plans to double its renewable energy portfolio capacity to 16GW by 2025, at least triple the amount for its regulated subsidiaries by 2030. The company also plans to reach 40GW for its regulated subsidiaries by 2050, along with 11GW of storage across its system by that time. It will also retire all of its coal-only units in the Carolinas by 2030 and is “working with stakeholders to accelerate retirement of coal plants in Indiana,” Duke spokesperson Phil Sgro said in an email.

To reduce its methane emissions to net-zero by 2030, the utility has replaced all of its cast iron pipes with plastic or steel coated pipes to reduce leakage and add new technologies to help monitor emissions. Pipeline replacement is seen as an effective emissions reduction tool by some observers, but environmentalists say Duke’s plan is a signal that it will continue to rely on gas infrastructure for decades to come.

Duke is the latest utility to raise its clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction commitments from previous goals. The utility last year set itself on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, and halving them by 2030. 

“Duke’s plan to double down on fracked gas means a deadly explosive will continue to pump through our communities, putting our safety and health at risk. Making these changes will further cement Duke’s dependence on gas, which is a dangerous fossil fuel that is not, and never will be, clean or renewable,” Dave Rogers, Southeast deputy regional campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. “Duke should not be praised for a plan that further endangers our climate, health, safety, and economy. Instead it should make a plan to phase gas out and use those savings to meet its own clean energy goals.”

Sgro said Sierra Club’s criticisms were “missing the point.”

“To argue that having a methane goal signals anything else other than a commitment to a comprehensive climate strategy is missing the point,” he said. “This goal solidifies our role as a leader in our industry in executing an ambitious strategy to deliver a clean energy future for millions of Americans.”

[Catherine Morehouse]

More: Duke vows to double renewables capacity, reach net-zero methane emissions by 2030

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