by Bethany Torstenson
Digital Manager and Writer, John Locke Foundation
Duke Energy recently announced its plans to replace one of the company’s coal-fired power plants with new small modular reactors at the Belews Creek Steam Station.
Also included in their revised resource plan is their intention to “advance the company’s energy transition while prioritizing reliability and affordability – one designed to help maintain North Carolina’s status as the nation’s top state for economic development.”
You can read their proposed plans in full detail here.
In a statement, Duke Energy’s North Carolina President, Kendal Bowman, said: “We’re putting forward a balanced kind of all-of-the-above proposed resource plan that puts North Carolina on a path to cleaner energy while protecting reliability and affordability.”
This is great news for North Carolina and a significant policy victory for the John Locke Foundation and several other organizations committed to clean energy.
Let’s break down this huge policy win and what this means going forward:
First, this is a huge win for everyday North Carolinians. Gradually replacing coal plants with new nuclear facilities will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars compared to replacing them with wind, solar, and battery storage.
In a 2022 report, Locke’s Jon Sanders highlighted the extensive financial burden on taxpayers that Duke Energy’s 2022 Carbon Plan would have, resulting in an increase of $11.4 billion to $12.5 billion.
North Carolinians can’t afford energy costs rising wildly when the result is only kicking the can further down the road. Limiting the financial burden on taxpayers is essential.
Second, it promotes nuclear energy, which is the energy of the future. Duke Energy’s newly recommended resource plan doesn’t include any offshore wind through 2038 but instead has 2.4 GW of clean nuclear energy.
According to an analysis Locke published last summer, North Carolinians would reach a point by 2032 in which our peak-month electricity needs would exceed the total output of dispatchable baseload generation—essentially leaving us to rely on solar, wind, and batteries to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running. By 2050, our research suggests that residents of North Carolina may confront the genuine possibility of intermittent power outages in the summer months.
A frightening thought.
To power the North Carolina of tomorrow, we must ensure that The Tar Heel State continues to lead the way as America’s energy capital.
This step by Duke Energy is a step in the right direction, but we must continue to charge full steam ahead.
Here at Locke, our priority continues to be advocating for a proactive energy plan today, so we can guarantee long-term returns in the decades to come.