Step 1. Shaping public policy
Congress could pass legislation enacting a greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program as early as 2009. As we strive to shape that legislation, we are working to:
Better understand the impact alternative policy approaches could have on our industry, our operations and our customers.
Better understand the technology gap for low- and zero-emitting power generation and promote the funding mechanisms needed to close that gap.
Communicate with policymakers and other stakeholders, who can help mold and shape federal policy while new technologies develop. This report and our 2007|2008 Sustainability Report are part of that communication process.
Most pending federal legislation calls for reducing our nation’s GHG emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050. Scientists say the United States and other carbon-intensive nations need to achieve this reduction level by the middle of this century to slow, stop and reverse the effects of climate change. For Duke Energy, we expect that all of our currently operating baseload nuclear and coal-fired generating units will be retired by 2050, with the possible exception of one of our “newest” coal plants in Ohio, which will then be 59 years old.
Given the unknowns — the timing of new low-carbon generation technologies and future carbon dioxide (CO2) emission constraints — we decided to look instead at what it might take to cut our CO2 emissions in half — by approximately 50 million tons — by 2030. Due to their relicensing, our three nuclear plants will still be operating, and our planned fourth nuclear plant, Lee Nuclear Station, will have been on line for about 12 years, based on the current schedule. 2030 gives us a more realistic horizon over which to evaluate potential emission-reduction strategies.
With passage of the right cap-and-trade legislation and new technologies, we believe we could successfully reduce our CO2 emissions like we have our nitrogen oxide (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Through 2010, we will have invested approximately $5 billion to further reduce our SO2 and NOX emissions. We project that by 2010, those emissions will be about 70 percent lower than they were in 1997. The SO2 and NOX controls we have been installing have the added benefit of capturing a significant amount of mercury.
The point is, we acted proactively before to achieve workable regulations and made the necessary investments in new technology to comply. We can do that again with carbon legislation and forge a solution that protects our customers, our business and our nation’s economy.