Press Release | August 16, 2023

Clean energy advocates react to Duke Energy’s proposed Carbon Plan

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Groups involved in the North Carolina Utilities Commission proceeding to develop a new state plan for reducing heat-trapping carbon pollution from electricity generation—known as the Carbon Plan—reacted to a proposed plan by Duke Energy. Coming just one year after the clean energy provisions of the landmark Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law by the Biden administration, Duke Energy’s plan does not do enough to fully take advantage of the new incentives for renewable energy under federal law.

A bipartisan North Carolina law enacted in 2021 tasks the utilities commission with developing a plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in the state by 70% from 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Duke’s proposal is the first step in developing a new plan to replace the 2022 N.C. Carbon Plan.

Interested parties have 180 days after the utility files with the N.C. Utility Commission to file critiques of Duke’s plan or their own alternative plans with the commission. As part of its considerations, the commission will hold a public comment period and public hearings.

A coalition of public interest groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and the Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, along with the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association—commissioned expert analysis of Duke’s 2022 plan. The analysis found that seventy percent reduction of carbon pollution by 2030 is achievable for North Carolina while meeting its energy needs according to experts through increased investments in bill-saving energy efficiency and more renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy

The clean energy advocates’ initial reactions to Duke’s proposed Carbon Plan follow.

David Neal, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said. “We are concerned that Duke is continuing to double down on new, polluting fossil-fueled power plants—the same kinds of plants that led to rolling black outs this winter— instead of taking full advantage of more cost-effective energy efficiency, solar, and related clean energy solutions. We will scrutinize Duke’s filing and explore options for North Carolinians that comply with the carbon emissions reduction requirements in state law while saving customers money on their power bills.”

Cassie Gavin, director of policy at the NC Sustainable Energy Association, said, “Today’s filing from Duke Energy shows that the utility is prioritizing the interests of shareholders over that of North Carolina customers. Their carbon plan filing is a slap in the face of residents who will bear the brunt of significant rate hikes, largely attributed to the utility’s desire to build costly, unreliable natural gas plants. Groups like NCSEA have already demonstrated that renewables including wind, solar, and storage are the most cost-effective and reliable option to keep rates low and the lights on which should be a top priority for a utility that experienced blackouts at the end of 2022.”

Mikaela Curry, Sierra Club field manager, said, “In order for the carbon plan to be successful, Duke should be using their considerable resources to lead the transition toward clean renewable energy. Instead, they continue to plan and do business as usual, pushing to expand and double down on methane gas, which will force communities across the state into long-term obligations for new polluting infrastructure. Instead of shifting their focus in a meaningful way to a much larger clean energy buildout that would benefit customers and protect our air and water, Duke remains committed to this massive gas buildout, and continues to fail to plan in the best interest of our communities.”

Maggie Shober, research director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said, “The previous Carbon Plan proceeding highlighted a key barrier to decarbonizing our power generation: Updating our outdated and poorly planned electricity grid so that clean electrons can get to where they are needed. In response to the Commission, Duke is proposing changes to make how it plans its transmission grid more proactive instead of reactive. These initial proposed changes are encouraging, and we’ll engage in the process to ensure Duke customers aren’t paying more on their electric bills because Duke missed the opportunity to look ahead and adapt its system to meet future needs.”

Luis Martinez, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “When it comes to the carbon plan, Duke is missing an incredible opportunity to push the state toward a vibrant, affordable, clean energy future for all North Carolinians and has instead chosen to further invest in fossil fuels and its profit margin —even when just about every intervenor in the carbon plan called for aggressive solar and battery deployment, scaled-up energy efficiency, and a halt to dirty dead-end fossil investments. We trust that the Utilities Commission will recognize the lack of ambition in Duke’s carbon plan proposal, which risks not meeting the state’s climate and affordability targets at a time when leadership and urgency is needed.”


About the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association

North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) is the leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that drives public policy and market development for clean energy. NCSEA’s work enables clean energy jobs, economic opportunities, and affordable energy options for all North Carolinians. Learn more about NCSEA, its mission, and vision at

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at

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