Duke Energy's climate hypocrisy and greenwashing efforts


Saying all the right words, but doing all the wrong things:

Both Southern and Duke say that their pro-climate positions are aligned with the pro-climate positions of two of their two largest trade associations, the Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association, citing boilerplate language from each.

EEI says that “global climate change presents one of the biggest energy and environmental policy challenges this country has ever faced.” AGA says that it is “committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through smart innovation, new and modernized infrastructure, and advanced technologies.”

Just a quick reminder, the AGA is behind a new NC bill that forces cities to allow natural gas connections for buildings, even though the carbon footprint from said buildings is massive. The Edison Electric Institute has been a climate change denier since Jesus was in middle school, and they have particularly attacked renewable energy programs:

The growth of residential solar systems is viewed as a threat to the utility industry's profits, according to the Washington Post, which obtained documents from a 2012 retreat hosted by EEI:

The utility industry’s playbook for slowing the growth of residential solar is laid out in a few frames of the computer slide show [...] Despite a bland title—“Facing the Challenges of a Distribution System in Transition”—the Edison document portrays solar systems as a serious, long-term threat to the survival of traditional electricity providers. [...]

The document, provided to The Washington Post by the Energy & Policy Institute, called for a campaign of “focused outreach” targeting key groups that could influence the debate: state legislatures, regulatory agencies and sympathetic consumer-advocacy groups.

Two-and-a-half years later, evidence of the “action plan” envisioned by Edison officials can be seen in states across the country. Legislation to make net metering illegal or more costly has been introduced in nearly two dozen state houses since 2013. Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit organization with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.[3]

Make no mistake, Duke Energy's reliance on these two groups is firm evidence they have been lying not only to lawmakers and the general public, but their own shareholders, too:

The information provided by Duke and Southern in their latest disclosures offer vague, general support of climate action, but no specifics about advocacy for or against actual policies for the Climate Action 100+ or other investors to evaluate.

Duke Energy’s report, released last week, came in response to a shareholder resolution filed by Mercy Investment Services seeking more information about “if, and how, Duke’s lobbying activities […] align with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting average global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.” Like the Climate Action 100+ metrics, the resolution further specified its request to include lobbying undertaken by Duke “direct[ly] and through trade associations and social and nonprofit organizations,” as well as “how the company plans to mitigate risks presented by any misalignment.”

Mercy Investment Services withdrew the resolution, according to its website, upon Duke’s agreement to produce a report on “how its lobbying activities align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

However, Duke’s report is limited to a review of its trade association activities. The company failed to disclose its direct lobbying activities or, as initially requested, the political activities of its Duke Energy Foundation. (Utilities often use their charitable arms to influence politics, as documented in a report by the Energy and Policy Institute last year.)

Duke Energy has been meeting in secret with Republicans in the General Assembly, supposedly related to NC's Solar industry. No Democrats or environmentalists have been allowed, but allegedly Solar lobbyists are included. If any of those folks are reading this, here's a little piece of advice: Don't mess with PURPA. It's a long-standing Federal law that requires utilities to connect renewable energy projects like Solar farms, so that whatever renewable generation is constructed is guaranteed to be put to use. But Duke Energy doesn't like it, because they want the ability to "negotiate" rates before they hook the farms up, and refuse to do so until they get what they want.

Pay close attention to the following: Nothing they offer in trade for getting rid of NC's adherence to PURPA is worth it. Our Solar growth, which has been enormous (#2 in the nation), would soon come to a standstill. Why? Because investors behind those proposed projects would see their projected earnings disappear, making other investment opportunities more enticing.