On June 29, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected Duke Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the Carolinas and directed the utility to modify its existing and future IRPs in response to input from the solar industry.
The IRP contained several measures important to the solar industry, including decisions that would have impacted future electricity retail rates, availability of solar + storage power purchase agreements, coal plant retirements and several other consequential decisions for renewable energy in South Carolina.
Kevin Lucas, senior director of utility regulation and policy for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), served as an expert witness for the Carolinas Clean Energy Business Alliance (CCEBA) on this matter. The decision from the South Carolina PSC specifically noted the impact of Kevin Lucas’ testimony on their decision and included a number of his recommendations in their final order.
“The Duke Energy IRP contained a number bad assumptions and methodologies that would have supported too much Duke-owned natural gas generation instead of developing more competitive solar, storage, and demand-side resources,” said Mr. Lucas. “We commend the South Carolina PSC for their thoughtful actions to maintain energy freedom and put ratepayers first. Now that Duke is going back to the drawing board, it’s important that its modified IRPs take a more realistic approach and consider the true cost-competitiveness, economic benefits and reduced risk of solar and storage.”
The PSC order directs Duke Energy to reconsider critical parts of the IRP, including to:
- Update its cost assumptions for solar PPAs and storage and solar + storage projects;
- Update its natural gas price forecast to reflect real-word supply risks;
- Update the capacity benefits that solar and storage can provide for both summer and winter peak demand based on actual system installation data;
- Increase the amount of solar than can be connected to the grid each year; and
- Properly model the cost impacts of the plan on ratepayers.
Duke is required by the PSC to file modified IRPs within 60 days of this Order.
News item from SEIA