Renewable Roundup: Utility greenwashing (Duke Energy edition)

  • Published on May 30th, 2020

It is intended to sound like Good News: Duke Energy promises to go “net zero”. In reality, it is extremely Bad News: Nowhere near 0% fossil fuels, and not until 2050. There is no excuse for—I’m sorry, I have no words to express my contempt for these—ehh, let’s just say weasels.

Yes, this Duke Energy, with the giant ash pond spills

By Mokurai

Major electric company sets goal for net-zero emissions by 2050

A major electricity company has laid out plans to achieve a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by shifting away from some usage of fossil fuels.

Emphasis added.

Duke Energy also hopes to make use of emerging technologies such as advancements in nuclear energy, the use of technology to capture carbon during natural gas production and using hydrogen and other low- or zero-carbon fuels.

  • Nuclear: No. Just no. It costs multiples what renewables do, if it can get built at all, years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
  • Carbon Capture: A lie, plain and simple, at best.
  • Energy from carbon capture during natural gas production? What are they even talking about?
  • Hydrogen: OK. No, wait. Hydrogen from using excess renewable electricity to crack water, yes; hydrogen from coal gasification—Where’s my pitchfork?
  • Other low-or zero-carbon fuels:

ACHIEVING A NET

ZERO

CARBON FUTURE

Duke Energy 2020 Climate Report

As one of the largest electric and gas utilities in the U.S., Duke Energy embraces its responsibility not only to power the communities where our customers live and work, but also to address risks from climate change.

Hmmp. Hrrf. Hahaha HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA Whaaaaaa!

The hypocrisy, it burns!

The report stated that in 2019, Duke Energy’s electricity generation emitted 93 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. It aims to reduce that figure to 76.5 million tons by 2030, and eventually land on net-zero emissions.

No.

No, no, NO, NO!

They should be at actual 0% fossil fuels by 2030, with no smoke and mirrors jiggery-pokery on pretended offsets.

  • The renewable resources are being built, even in Indiana and the other states where Duke operates.
  • Coal is nearly dead, and should be taken off life support and given a decent funeral.
  • Natural gas has had its time as a bridge fuel, and should be allowed to die away now that renewables are distinctly less expensive.
  • First-of-its-Kind Energy Storage Facility Opens

News Release July 12, 2016

Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL), a subsidiary of The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES), held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Advancion® Energy Storage Array at the Harding Street Generation Station.

Somebody is illegitimately making money on this nonsense. I do not know exactly who, but when company management acts against the company’s financial interest, there are crimes being committed. There may even be crimes against the public interest, according to law, going on here.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.  It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

The government of an exclusive company of merchants is, perhaps, the worst of all governments for any country whatever.

Every system which endeavours, either, by extraordinary encouragements, to draw towards a particular species of industry a greater share of the capital of the society than what would naturally go to it; or, by extraordinary restraints, to force from a particular species of industry some share of the capital which would otherwise be employed in it; is in reality subversive of the great purpose which it means to promote. It retards, instead of accelerating, the progress of the society towards real wealth and greatness; and diminishes, instead of increasing, the real value of the annual produce of its land and labour.

All systems either of preference or of restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men.

It is unjust that the whole of society should contribute towards an expence of which the benefit is confined to a part of the society.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Back to the story:

Last year, 24 percent of the company’s electricity generation came from coal. In 2050, Duke hopes to generate none of its electricity from coal.

OK, but as I said, it needs to be before 2030. Duke only has 16 GW of coal capacity, all of it losing money.

Coal power in the United States

Actual and predicted coal plant closures, 2012-2024

During that period, the company also hopes to increase it use of renewable energy sources to produce 36 percent of its electricity, up from 5 percent.

36%?!!!?

Thirty-one percent of Duke’s electricity generation comes from gas. It hopes to reduce this to 6 percent by 2050.

Feh.

However, the company also hopes to have some of its energy coming from carbon capture utilization and storage technology, a process by which carbon is pulled out of the air during fossil fuel production.This process, alongside other emerging technologies, are projected to make up 30 percent of Duke Energy’s electricity generation by 2050.

In what universe can you generate power from capturing CO2? On its face, this is total nonsense.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) – CCUS technologies for the power sector are in the early stages of deployment, with a few small-scale projects on coal having achieved commercial operation and several natural gas projects currently in development, spurred by the 45Q tax credit, which provides an incentive for utilizing or storing captured CO2. Demonstration of CCUS at scale for natural gas power plants is an important milestone for commercial deployment in the power sector, as is building public, environmental and regulatory confidence around the transportation of captured CO2 and its utilization and geologic storage.

Oh, wait, now I get it. They want you to think that they can capture all of the CO2 from burning methane, and then they can claim that the methane burning is carbon-neutral power generation. Not counting any of the methane leaks from wells and so on.

But that has nothing to do with carbon capture at gas wells.

OK, then, not just greenwashing but outright gaslighting.

Duke also plans to use carbon credits, which can be purchased to offset a company’s carbon footprint, to help it achieve its net-zero goal.

You see?

Partners in Crime

In Indiana, Carbon Taxes You (Not)

We might have defeated “Indiana’s Enron” last week. Leucadia Energy’s Rockport Coal Gasification Boondoggle—environmental threat, financial threat, and perversion of democracy in Indiana—is now off, according to the company. Self-proclaimed Free Marketeers in the Indiana legislature previously voted to require Hoosiers to pay far above the market price for Unnatural Gas, aka syngas, that is, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide made from coal and water. This corrupt deal would have been law for thirty years. Now they have changed their minds under intense public pressure. Even our egregious Gov. Mike Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma have backed away from the deal. Leucadia is complaining bitterly that Indiana changed the rules in the middle of the game. Which is true. The public was outraged at the previous outright legislative theft, and they had to give it up.

Boo-hoo. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of kleptocrats.

Yes, this zombie deal stayed dead this time.

But back to Duke.

We are also involved in both the Midwest Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative and the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership.

Carbon Capture Facts: June 2018—Carbon Capture Coalition

Launch of National Carbon Capture Leadership Council

The Council’s objectives include the following:

  • Position carbon capture as an essential and equal component of our nation’s broader portfolio of low and zero-carbon energy options
  • Cultivate support among peer private and public leaders for a robust national carbon capture policy and deployment agenda
  • Support priority policies through personal engagement and outreach to federal and state elected officials and policymakers
  • Encourage and support state officials and stakeholders in their efforts to deploy carbon capture and COpipeline infrastructure projects

Debut of Governors’ Partnership for Carbon Capture

On Tuesday, June 19, Governor Matt Mead (R-WY) and Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) announced the launch of a new bipartisan national effort to provide state executive leadership, focus and outreach on behalf of carbon capture policy and technology deployment. The Governors’ Partnership for Carbon Capture will initially be led by the two governors.

Announcement of Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative

  • On Tuesday, June 19, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Montana Governor Steve Bullock also announced a new effort to promote broad-scale deployment of infrastructure for carbon capture, CO2 pipelines, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), other forms of geologic storage, and beneficial utilization of CO2 in the Northern Plains/Rockies and Midwest regions.
  • Dubbed the Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative, the effort is intended to build on recent bipartisan congressional reform of the federal 45Q tax credit for CO2 storage and beneficial use. It has been developed under the auspices of the State Carbon Capture Work Group convened by Governors Mead and Bullock.

About the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership

The MRCSP region originally consisted of seven contiguous states: Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. New York became the eighth member state in 2007. In the summer of 2009, New Jersey joined the MRCSP as its ninth state. Delaware recently joined in 2015. A group of leading universities, state geological surveys, nongovernmental organizations and private companies, led by Battelle, has been assembled to carry out this important research.

Great Plains Institute

Successful deployment of new carbon capture projects and CO2 pipeline infrastructure will boost innovation and reduce costs, further accelerating the adoption of carbon capture technologies. This regional effort will “bring together state officials with diverse stakeholders to focus on infrastructure build-out for carbon capture and will apply research and data to catalyze action on deployment in states through cooperative regional efforts,” according to Brad Crabtree, Great Plains Institute Vice President for Fossil Energy.

Federal Tax Credits for CO2 Storage and “Beneficial Use”

These are some of the illegitimate financial grabs by the Fossil Fool crime syndicate.

Internal Revenue Code Tax Fact Sheet

Clean Coal Projects

There are a number of tax credits which were made available for clean coal projects in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05). The following tax credits were allocated to projects within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE). This fact sheet summarizes the tax credits in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 48A, 48B, and 45Q.

Section 45Q provides a tax credit on a per-ton basis for CO2 that is sequestered. From 2008–2018, an incentive of $20 per metric ton for CO2 geologic storage and $10 per metric ton ton for CO2used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or enhanced natural gas recovery (EGR) was available. This Section 45Q tax credit was capped at 75 million tons and in 2014, the IRS reported that 35 million tons had already been claimed.

In February 2018, with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the tax credit was updated. The Section 45Q tax credit will increase to $35 per metric ton for EOR and $50 per metric ton for geologic storage by 2026. The $35 tax credit is also available for non-EOR CO2 utilization and direct air capture projects.Tax policies adopted by numerous state governments complement these federal tax incentives.

Another View

Will Indiana Be ‘Crossroads of Clean Energy?’

“In 2019, we got a great signal from the utilities in Indiana that they were more interested in building clean energy and renewable energy into their resource plan, which was a wakeup call,” said Jeff Danielson, central states director for the American Wind Energy Association.

Last year, Northern Indiana Public Service Co., a subsidiary of Merrillville-based NiSource (NYSE: NI), announced plans for the construction of four wind farms in the state. The latest was an 80-turbine, 302-megawatt wind farm in White County.

In February 2019, NIPSCO unveiled its plans to be coal-free by 2028, replacing coal-fired generation with wind, solar and battery storage technology.

See! That’s what I’m talking about.

Indiana currently ranks 12th in the number of wind turbines with 1,264. The massive turbines, located on utility-scale wind farms, mostly in west-central Indiana, generate 5% of the state’s energy needs.

While the state is still reliant on coal, wind energy companies, like Texas-based EDP Renewables, see potential. It’s building the Meadow Lake Wind Farm in White, Jasper and Benton Counties. AWEA says it’s the fourth-largest wind project in the U.S. with 414 wind turbines.

“We’re seeing right now in Indiana at the local level, a cluster of counties who have all but have effectively imposed bans on actually building that wind farm,” said Danielson. “You have all of those benefits and all that investment that is likely to occur, but for decisions at the local level that do not allow wind farms and other assets to be actually built.”

Last May, Tippecanoe County commissioners voted in favor of a zoning ordinance to ban wind turbines taller than 140 feet. Most industrial turbines are closer to 300 feet tall.

Danielson says there is an estimated $5.5 billion worth of additional wind energy investment that could occur in Indiana if barriers were removed.

Personal Note

We get our electricity through, but not from, Duke. We signed up for renewable electricity a while back from Arcadia, at the urging of DK. Here is a Diary by another Kossack who did the same thing.

Way back in October of 2015, I switched my electric energy supplier from PG&E to Arcadia Power, a supplier of 100% wind energy. The process was simple. First I created an online account with my utility, which happens to be PG&E. Next, I did the same with Arcadia Power. Finally, I setup automatic payments using a credit card, and gave Arcadia Power my PG&E login credentials. Arcadia Power has handled everything from that point. They pay my monthly PG&E bill, for which I reimburse them, along with a $5 wind-energy charge. They use the REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) model, and are EPA certified; a key point of this system is that the customer owns the environmental benefits, which cannot, for example, be resold by the power provider to another business looking to offset its own CO2 emissions. (Note: Although I came to Arcadia Power via a different path, there is/was a relationship between Daily Kos and Arcadia Power, a relationship concerning which some Kossacks have expressed doubt; however, I don’t know what that relationship currently is. Possibly it has been replaced by, or subsumed under, the relationship with CleanChoice Energy.)

A topic for another Renewable Day, then. But feel free to comment.

(Crossposted with DailyKos.)

About the Author

Generalist BA, Math and Philosophy Peace Corps, South Korea Buddhist monastic training High-tech market analyst Tech Writer Serial NGO Founder Education for a billion children End poverty at a profit

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