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Bill would retire many N.C. coal-fired plants, boost renewables

Bill would retire many N.C. coal-fired plants, boost renewables

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RALEIGH — Several coal-fired power plants operated by Duke Energy’s North Carolina subsidiaries would transition to alternate fuels by the end of 2030 and a renewable-energy procurement program would be expanded in legislation unveiled Tuesday by House Republicans.

The “Modernize Energy Generation” measure was drawn up with input from utilities, customer and business groups and renewable energy boosters, and is expected to be discussed later this week in committee. Talk of yet-disclosed energy legislation had surfaced in Legislative Building hallways for months.

The bill says the legislation would contribute to a 61% reduction in carbon-based emissions in the state by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels. This compares to the 70% reduction sought by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in his Clean Energy Plan.

A key element of the proposal would be to retire low-efficiency “subcritical” coal-fired operations at five locations — at the Marshall, Allen, Roxboro, Cliffside and Mayo plants. While the Marshall plants would shift to natural gas fuel and the Allen plan to solar and battery power, alternative fuel for the other three locations will be determined later by the Utilities Commission.

“There are multiple goals we’re trying to get to here,” said state Rep. John Szoka, a Cumberland County Republican and bill sponsor. He added that he doesn’t want to pass legislation that emphasizes technology that could be outdated or inefficient in a short period of time. He said he suspects some groups will have issues with the bill.

The bill also would introduce another attempt to let Duke Energy seek rate increases in three-year blocks though the state Utilities Commission, rather than year by year. The Charlotte-based utility was unsuccessful two years ago in getting legislative approval for the multiyear idea, which the company says can reduce legal costs and provide more predictability.

The latest multiyear rate proposal contains other provisions that emerged from separate energy discussions initiated by the Cooper administration.

Duke Energy is reviewing the proposal.


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