Duke Energy: the true Clean Power Plan ‘Go—No Go’ axis

A version of this article was published in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

State of North Carolina adoption of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is critical to our future economic development and national security. Otherwise the politics of anthropogenic climate confusion may expand. This means the half of the nation currently rejecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)—a central Federal sustainability strategy—will continue to avoid lowering airborne carbon from electrical grids at maximum.

This work goes beyond laggard states reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) a certain percentage by 2030. We want to innovate globally in a way fostering natural but speedy momentum for very low carbon economies.

As rest of the world sees shirker US approaches, the impact of the Paris climate accords might fade. Or things turn around here in North Carolina. Assets are here demonstrating strong statewide sustainability innovation leadership, yet without a cogent North Carolina energy plan we cannot fully participate.

One form of a Carolinas energy plan is imminent. The question is whether this plan will be best in contrast to other logical, responsible alternatives.

Everyone who knows anything about North Carolina policy should know that if Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good and her board of directors publicly embrace the NC CPP this month, one of the first things that happens when the NC Legislature reconvenes will be a slew of CleanTech bills. One of these bills is HB 571, “Implement Clean Power Plan”.

There are many reasons for seeing my state as a key target for climate and grid modernization action this year. We have many assets here to support this change. The Sierra Club (I’m a member), NC Sustainable Energy Association (member), and Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment are among these local assets. But if these organizations alone had everything covered, I would not have bothered to get the first steps of Sustain NC done.

I hope folks agree that North Carolina adoption of the CPP—certainly with unique, customized local innovations—means other states resistant to the CPP have less to rely on. As citizens, investors, and decision makers across the nation point out the role of Duke Energy as the CPP ‘Go—No Go’ axis, we grow closer to faster progress.

Many utilities have endorsed the CPP. Yet Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good seems to feel waiting for CPP case law to get sorted is best. I say Duke Energy optimizing its CleanTech chops (they’re trying) and declaring support for the NC CPP best serves Duke Energy and its stakeholders long-term. It would be great if my solo work were enough to make that day happen sooner rather than later. Instead I know elected officials as well as nonprofit, government, private sector, and retired executives willing to join Sustain NC will be part of moving forward.

I have been awarded an NC Utilities Commission Petition to Intervene concerning one of the first new Duke Energy combined cycle natural gas plants, in this case here in the Asheville, NC area. Duke Energy calls for solar, ‘other technologies’ like megawatt-scale energy storage, and deep energy efficiency measures. Yet the public side is severely underdeveloped. That is Western North Carolina municipalities are unprepared in terms of response capabilities in the face of this uniquely timed and critical grid modernization opportunity. Federal resources are severely underutilized and the support of other strategic national assets is not emphasized as possible partners. This will be the case in many US municipalities.

Sustain NC references valuable documents from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. These and the many other representations of our national intellectual and strategic capabilities need more visibility in North Carolina.

Charlotte multimillionaire Jay Faison and his wealthy ClearPath organization are marketing a ‘conservative clean energy agenda’. I would disagree energy and anthropogenic climate have ideologies. Energy means physics and responsible use of technology. At least ClearPath uses some of the better research and I give credit where credit is due. I hope to work with Faison.

I agree there has been a strong ideological factor as to anthropogenic climate and its solutions. There are misconceptions everywhere. I also agree there is room for improvement in the current EPA program. That doesn’t mean avoiding a better way is legitimate.
Please join me in combining sustainability innovation with classic economic development strategy: http://www.sgdeep.com. North Carolina residency is not mandatory.

 

Grant Millin lives in Asheville, NC and is a veteran, an innovation strategist, and owner of InnovoGraph LLC. Grant is the Sustain NC developer.

 

Posted in Asheville, Climate Change Innovation, Innovation and Opportunity Ecosystem, Open Strategic Innovation for Communities.