EDF Filing: Duke Energy pinning North Carolina's energy future to nonexistent hydrogen fuel market

May 28, 2024
Julie Murphy - JPM Strategies, (919) 219-6387, julie@jpmstrategies.net
Alison Wenzel - EDF, (212) 505-2645, awenzel@edf.org

Today the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed testimony with the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) regarding Duke Energy’s Carbon Plan/Integrated Resource Plan. Drawing from expert analysis provided by William McAleb, the testimony filed today points to specific assumptions and information gaps that Duke Energy must address in order for the NCUC to properly consider Duke’s proposal. The NCUC will hold hearings this summer and issue an order by the end of the year. The full testimony can be found on the NCUC website.

EDF Director of Southeast Climate and Clean Energy, Will Scott, shared the following statement with regard to the filing:

"We are facing a huge decision point in the state’s energy future over the next few months. It’s up to the NCUC to carefully review Duke Energy’s plan and protect North Carolinians from overpriced, risky and unnecessary investments in new fossil fuel power plants. In particular, the Commission must scrutinize Duke’s unsupported assertion that building ten new gas plants under the assumption that they can all be converted to burn hydrogen is the least-cost and least-risk path for electricity customers across the state.

Blending hydrogen into existing pipeline networks, as Duke initially proposes, increases the chances of pipeline “embrittlement” and leaks as a result. Also, because hydrogen requires three times as much volume to supply the same amount of energy as methane, current pipelines simply do not have the capacity to deliver sufficient fuel, and no concrete proposal exists in the Southeast for a dedicated hydrogen pipeline network. If Duke Energy insists on pinning the energy future of the state to a hydrogen fuel market which does not currently exist, the company should, at the least, be more specific and transparent about their plan and its price tag before asking North Carolina ratepayers to foot the bill."

The expert testimony filed today recommends that the NC Utilities commission decline to approve Duke's proposed gas-heavy plan as reasonable and prudent unless the company provides concrete information to support its assumptions on the cost and feasibility of hydrogen fuel switching. Specifically, on behalf of NC electricity customers, the NCUC should:

  • Require Duke Energy to share costs for its facilities to achieve 100% hydrogen-capable status, and costs for sourcing and storage of hydrogen to operate those facilities.
  • Conduct a study, outlining in detail how Duke Energy can guarantee the availability of hydrogen relied upon in its currently-proposed plan and how it plans to address safety and feasibility concerns.
  • Require Duke Energy to explain its backup plan for meeting House Bill 951’s 2050 net-zero carbon pollution requirements if the company is unable to source sufficient clean hydrogen at a competitive price to fuel its ten proposed gas units.

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