Duke Energy Plans to Add Wind Power to Cut Carbon Emissions
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the first time, Duke Energy is including wind power in its Integrated Resource Plan, an outline of how the state’s largest utility plans to meet energy demand for the next 15 years.
As one of a handful of proposed pathways to cut carbon emissions in half in the next decade, Duke Energy said it could potentially incorporate wind power as early as 2027, and increase solar usage as it phases out its coal-fired power plants.
Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said it’s important to have a variety of energy sources feeding into to the grid.
“If you add wind, you don’t need as much energy storage,” she said. “If you diversify your carbon-free resources, when one is down — it needs maintenance or isn’t generating — you’ve got others that are.”
Gov. Roy Cooper’s Clean Energy Plan calls on utilities to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030. According to federal data, as of last year, wind makes up about 7% of the total U.S. utility power generation.
North Carolina has enacted several laws that Kollins said have deterred development of land-based wind startups, but the state currently has one operating wind farm, built by independent power producer Avangrid Renewables.
“That is the only large operating wind farm in the entire Southeast,” she said. “There is one other project in North Carolina that is under development, by Apex Clean Energy. It is called the Timbermill Wind Project; it is also up in northeast North Carolina.”
Kollins said land-based wind farms often are a significant income generator and boost to the local tax base for rural communities.
“That is the case in Pasquotank and Perquimmans counties. It would be the case in Chowan County, where the Timbermill project will be built,” she said. “These are significant income providers, both in terms of land-owner payments and local taxes.”
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, this year around 14 new wind projects launched in nine states. According to the American Wind Energy Association, an estimated 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry.