South Carolina Public Service Commission cites risk of climate-related financial loss in Duke Energy Decision

On June 17, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to send Duke Energy’s Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) back to the company for revision. In a more thorough written order released this week, the commission laid out its reasoning for the decision, referencing expert testimony from Vote Solar and other intervenors in the case.

During proceedings, we made the case that Duke’s 2020 IRPs did not adequately address climate change or protect South Carolina ratepayers from undue energy burdens. Our research with the Energy Transition Institute found that existing and proposed fossil fuel investments in Duke’s plans would become unusable during their planned lifetime, costing $4.8 billion, equivalent to $900 per Carolina family in today’s dollars. In its order, the commission indicated agreement, calling Duke’s over-reliance on new gas plants “flawed” and noting that Duke’s reliance on gas is “inconsistent” with its climate goals.

The Public Service Commission’s order shows how climate risks and our pocketbooks are connected. Duke Energy’s plan to massively expand gas-fired power plants is not only more expensive today, but it would expose the customers to stranded asset risks down the line. To have the commission acknowledge those long-term risks is a huge step forward for addressing climate risk in regulatory proceedings.

The commission’s order further states that Duke Energy’s IRP was inconsistent with its own public commitment of achieving net-zero carbon emission by 2050, another point made in our testimony. We’re glad to see the commission holding Duke accountable to its promise of reduced climate pollution.

Now, Duke Energy must modify their plans to meet the criteria outlined by the PSC and re-submit them for consideration.

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