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Duke Wants To Double Renewable Energy Sources By 2025

Duke Energy's Monroe Solar Farm.
David Boraks
Duke Energy's Monroe Solar Farm.

Duke Energy has set a goal of doubling the renewable energy it produces or buys by 2025. The new target is in the company's annual sustainability report out Tuesday.

About 14% of Duke's current energy mix comes from solar, wind, and other renewable sources. Duke wants to reach 28% in five years. Renewable energy advocates think the company can move more quickly. They're pushing Duke to speed up the retirement of fossil fuel-powered plants and replace them with reneweable energy, not more gas-fired plants. 

Progress On Climate Goals, But Barriers 

In a separate climate report also out today, the Charlotte-based utility says it has now reduced carbon emissions from electricity generation by 39% from 2005 levels. So far, much of that has come by retiring old coal plants and replacing them with lower-carbon natural gas-fired plants.

More renewables will be needed to hit future goals, including reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and becoming net-zero carbon by 2050. But Duke warns that the 2050 target depends on new technologies still in development. 

Those include "longer-duration (up to seasonal) storage, carbon capture, advanced nuclear and new carbon-free solutions that don’t exist yet at scale," the sustainability report says.

Duke has announced plans to seek 20-year license renewals for its nuclear plants, including two near Charlotte: Catawba Nuclear Station on Lake Wylie and McGuire Nuclear Station on Lake Norman.

Duke's sustainability report includes a variety of other measures, including the ones listed below.

  • Workplace safety: Three Duke workers or contractors died on the job last year.
  • Coal ash management: about 25 million tons have been excavated so far in North Carolina, with another 101 million tons to go.
  • Total shareholder return. Duke's goal is to outperform other investor-owned utilities. In 2019, the three-year return was 10.2%, compared with an average 14% return among it peers. 
  • Keeping rates low: Residential and business customers in all six states where it operates were below the national averages. 
  • Chemical releases to water: Duke's goal is to cut these in half by 2030, from the 2016 level of 212,000 pounds. In 2018, the most recent year available, was 520,000 pounds. 
  • Workplace diversity: The company had goals of increasing the percentage of women and minority employees to 25% percent and 20% percent, respectively, by the end of this year. At the end of 2019, women were 23.7% of Duke's workforce and minority employees were 18.8%. Duke says the coronavirus pandemic may slow hiring and make it difficult to meet the goals by the end of this year. 

Read the Reports  

Duke Energy 2020 Sustainability Report

Duke Energy 2020 Climate report     

Copyright 2021 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including and The Charlotte Observer.
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