by WRAL TechWire — January 31, 2023
CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy is proposing to regulars new renewable energy plans designed to help business and consumers who want to go “green.” It’s big with the potential to provide a capacity to service the equivalent of 800,000 homes. But the program won’t be cheap.
The Green Source Advantage, or GSA, plan needs the approval of the North Carolina Utilities Commission. It builds off a 2017 plan that the Utilities Commission approved and has been utilized by customers such as the City of Charlotte, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke University, according to the energy giant.
The proposal for industry “shows improvement over the existing program as it permits a customer to offset 100% of its energy usage and it includes retirement of environmental attributes on behalf of the customer,” said Kevin Martin, executive director of Carolina Utility Customers Association, a trade group representing North Carolina manufacturers.
But he noted that “other features of the proposal – like time alignment – that are less clear. Additionally, we hope that implementation and participation will be less confusing than past similar programs.”
An expansion to 4,000 megawatts is 10 times larger than the current program. Duke says the energy is “100% renewable power.”
“Many of our large business customers seek renewable power sources and are making decarbonization a long-term part of their business plans,” said Lon Huber, Duke Energy’s senior vice president, Pricing and Customers Solutions. “Duke Energy is proud to offer these customers a wide range of options including the ability to increase their hourly use with carbon-free energy in one of the country’s first time-aligned clean-energy programs.”
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The proposed plan also allows for business customers to contract for up to 100% of energy use compared to 30% in the previous plan,
“Customers may also combine energy storage with their project – allowing them to align the production of renewable energy with their energy load,” the utility adds.
Carolina Utility Customers Association (CUCA) is a trade association established in 1983 that advocates for the energy needs of NC manufacturers. Our members seek energy options that allow them to meet goals of reliability, cost competitiveness, and environmental goals. Our members are still evaluating the proposals that have been filed with the Utilities Commission. We appreciate Duke’s acknowledgement of the importance of more robust opportunities for large customers to participate in bringing carbon reductions and additional renewable energy investments onto the grid. The GSA Choice proposal shows improvement over the existing program as it permits a customer to offset 100% of its energy usage and it includes retirement of environmental attributes on behalf of the customer. There are other features of the proposal – like time alignment – that are less clear. Additionally, we hope that implementation and participation will be less confusing than past similar programs. Our members in the manufacturing community have their own environmental goals with regards to their energy consumption and are looking for more flexible and tailored approaches to achieve these goals. There may be other approaches that will help unleash the potential for larger users to advance the state’s carbon and renewable energy goals. We look forward to continuing to work with the Utilities, the NC Utilities Commission, the Public Staff, and other stakeholders to bring forth improvements and future programs that help us all achieve our goals.
Kevin Martin, MBA, PEM
Carolina Utility Customers Association, Inc.
Advocating for the Unique Energy Needs of Carolina Manufacturers
For consumers, the proposed plan would offer locally sourced renewable energy certificates (RECs) and month-to-month contracts.
“Clean Energy Impact will be available to residential customers, who can purchase renewable energy to match their energy use at the level of their choosing,” the utility said. “It will be ideal for renters, or customers who aren’t able or looking to install solar,” it added.
In an exclusive Q&A with WRAL TechWire a Duke Energy spokesperson talked about the program, from pricing to sourcing:
Does this energy cost more than traditionally sourced for businesses?
Under the GSA program, the business can negotiate the price of the renewable energy. It’s unlikely, but it would be less than what they are getting from the utility. But it could be.
Does the consumer plan cost more?
It will cost more. It’s based what the going market rate for a REC (Renewable Energy Certificate).
How does Duke identify green sourced power?
Wind, solar, hydro energy that is connected to the Duke Energy system
How much of the power comes from Duke’s grid?
All of it will be connected to the Duke Energy grid.
What’s the energy equivalent of the new availability, i.e. how many homes?
4,000 MWs of new capacity under the GSA would be about the annual energy use of 800,000 residentials homes
How does Duke Energy benefit financially from this? are there tax incentives,?
These programs are in response to customers who want more access to renewable energy. Under the Carbon Plan, there will be more solar being built in the Carolinas. There are tax incentives for companies that build renewable energy projects (utility and non-utility companies.)
What is the estimated investment Duke is making in this program – from grid resourcing and use to employees to monitor and maintain?
There is not a total amount right now. All projects will have to be approved by the NC Utilities Commission.
Is the program revenue positive/negative – and how do all duke energy customers benefit or subsidize the programs?
The program is designed to offer more renewable energy to customers who want more. But it will not be at the expense of non-solar customers.
Details for the GSA Choice program can be found online.
Business customers can get more details here.
Residential customers can get more information here.
Duke Energy spells out plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
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