Duke Energy works on plan to phase out coal, reduce carbon emissions

Duke Energy works on plan to phase out coal, reduce carbon emissions

4:47pm Feb 15, 2022
Duke Energy's Belews Creek Steam Station Plant uses both coal and natural gas to produce electricity. This photo was taken at the plant's site in Stokes County, North Carolina. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Duke Energy says it’s on track to stop generating electricity with coal by 2035. That includes the Belews Creek site in Stokes County, one of its largest plants.

The company says it plans to double its renewable energy portfolio by the end of the decade. The shift from coal will help the company meet internal climate goals and state mandates to reduce carbon emissions.

Last October, Gov. Cooper signed North Carolina’s new clean energy legislation, or House Bill 951. The bipartisan law requires the state utilities commission to take steps needed to achieve a 70 percent carbon reduction from public utilities by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

The process also calls for public stakeholder meetings. Duke Energy held one in January and will hold another later this month to discuss its clean energy plan. The state would have to give final approval.

So far, the company says it has retired 56 coal units. Duke Energy spokesman Bill Norton says they are working on a timeline for when coal will be completely phased out at the Belews Creek Plant.

"Between the stakeholder input and what the North Carolina Utilities Commission ultimately decides, the retirement could be sooner, it could be later strictly on natural gas, but we know we will cease use of coal there by 2035,” says Norton.

Beginning in 2020, natural gas was added to the Belews Creek site.

The coal ash basin there has been closed and cleanup continues.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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