February 10, 2022

Duke Energy Boosts Renewable Spending After State Law on Carbon Cuts

Duke Energy Corp. boosted spending plans on carbon-free power after a law in its home state mandated deep cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Duke, one of the largest U.S. electric utilities, raised its five-year capital spending plan about 7% to $63 billion, it said in a fourth-quarter earnings statement Thursday. The increase is mostly on new renewable generation and was driven by the North Carolina law, Chief Financial Officer Steve Young said in an interview.

The 2021 measure “requires the retirement of coal and the building of lower-carbon-producing assets,” said Young. “That drove a large portion of the $4 billion increase.”

The announcement comes a day after Duke said it plans to drop energy generated from coal by 2035. The company will spend about $15 billion over the next five years on regulated investments in renewables, nuclear, battery storage and hydro power, as well and commercial spending in wind and solar. The rest of the $63 billion will include spending on grid investments to improve reliability and resiliency. 

Young also said the company is considering entering a bid into the upcoming auction for offshore wind lease areas in federal waters off the coast of the Carolinas, and would consider cost and impact on reliability in making its decision. 

During the company’s earnings call Thursday morning, Duke executives said that projected 2022 income from its non-regulated commercial renewables business was $150 million instead of the usual $200 to $250 million. The drop comes from the delay in several solar projects as a result of supply chain issues and availability of materials. “We have made a decision to push some projects into 2023,” chief executive officer Lynn Good said on the call.

In an appearance on Bloomberg Television on Thursday, Good spoke about the need for a diverse energy mix. “We’re adding renewables, we’re adding storage, and natural gas is needed for dispatchability and reliability,” she said.

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