Environmental Footprint
Challenges
  • Keep rates competitive while making investments to reduce our impact on the environment.
  • Monitor, influence and prepare for potential new regulations that could impact our generation fleet.
  • Address stakeholder concerns associated with Edwardsport, a first-of-its-scale integrated gasification combined-cycle coal plant.
  • Participate fully in industry efforts to understand and learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan.
Opportunities
  • Reduce our carbon intensity by retiring and replacing older plants with new, cleaner generation.
  • Encourage U.S. energy policy that benefits both the environment and the economy.
  • Reduce demand through energy efficiency and digital smart grid programs.
  • Partner to effectively manage limited water supplies in some regions.
2011 and early 2011 highlights
  • Made significant progress on building the Cliffside and Edwardsport advanced-coal units.
  • Expanded partnerships with leading Chinese energy companies on clean energy technologies.
  • Reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions 73 and 52 percent, respectively, over past five years.
  • Recycled more than 24,000 tons of materials, or about 63 percent of our U.S. solid waste stream.

We must act today to ensure an affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy supply for our customers in the future. In the following Q&A, Janice Hager talks about the Integrated Resource Planning process that we use to determine the best options to meet those long-term energy needs.

How does the process work?

Photo of Janice Hager
Janice Hager
Vice President, Integrated Resource Planning and Regulated Analytics

A: Because power plants and other energy infrastructure take years to license and build, we must anticipate our customers’ energy needs 10 or 15 years into the future. The Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process uses both quantitative and qualitative analyses to determine when additional resources will be needed. These resources could include, for example, new nuclear, natural gas-fired or renewable energy, or additional energy efficiency. We use these analyses to develop resource plans for meeting near-term and long-term customer needs — while maintaining flexibility to adjust to evolving economic, environmental and operating circumstances. These plans are also submitted to our state regulators. While the plans can’t predict the future, they do help us prepare for what the future may hold.

How are sustainability considerations addressed?

A: Balancing the need for affordable, reliable and cleaner energy for the 21st century represents an important leadership opportunity for our company and our country. Despite the complexity of that challenge, Duke Energy’s commitment to sustainability is leading to decisions that are good for today, and even better for tomorrow. As part of our 2010 Carolinas IRP process, for example, we sought stakeholder feedback on what is important to them. To ensure our planning was consistent with our sustainability goals, we evaluated alternatives based on the following criteria: affordability, reliability, environmental impacts and job potential. We plan to explicitly incorporate these sustainability considerations into resource plans for other states.

Does the IRP still support the Edwardsport integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) project in Indiana, given higher cost estimates?

A: Yes, our analysis continues to show that, despite increased costs, completing the Edwardsport IGCC project is in the best interests of our customers. The state-of-the-art plant will replace 60-plus year-old units and ensure that we can meet our customers’ demand for energy. It will also be one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the world.

What’s the current projection for coal plant retirements?

A: Existing, pending and expected environmental regulations will likely result in retrofits, retirement or conversion to other fuels for most of Duke Energy’s coal-fired generation fleet. Since retrofits will not be economical for many of the smaller, older coal units, we will likely retire those units or convert them to burn natural gas in the 2015 time frame. We currently anticipate retiring or converting to another fuel (natural gas or biomass) about 2,400 MW of older coal-fired generation, and we’re evaluating options for another 1,300 MW. Duke Energy’s IRP process takes into account these likely impacts on resource needs, as well as other considerations.

In light of the crisis in Japan, and given the sluggish economy, has the outlook on new nuclear changed?

A: As a major part of Duke Energy’s diverse power generation mix for almost 40 years, nuclear energy has provided significant benefits for our customers. Going forward, our analyses show new nuclear generation as the best option for meeting Duke Energy’s long-term baseload generation needs in the Carolinas. Our focus in nuclear operations has always been on safety. That will never change. We will learn from the events in Japan and apply those lessons to ensure that safety remains our top priority, now and in the future.

A hallmark of the nuclear industry is working cooperatively to improve performance and safety. In this Q&A, Dhiaa Jamil provides the company’s perspective on the implications of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

What are the industry and Duke Energy doing to respond to the crisis in Japan?

Photo of Dhiaa Jamil
Dhiaa Jamil
Group Executive, Chief Generation Officer and Chief Nuclear Officer

A: As this emergency event unfolded, all U.S. chief nuclear officers participated in twice-daily phone conferences to understand what was happening in Japan, and what actions might be needed to ensure the continued safe operation of our nuclear plants. We have also worked through national and international industry agencies to support our counterparts in Japan.

Our industry takes very seriously our commitment to the safe operation of nuclear power plants. As an industry, we agreed early on to take the following short-term actions at U.S. nuclear plants:

  • Reverify our capability to maintain safety during severe adverse events, including the loss of significant operational systems caused by natural events, fires, aircraft impact or explosions.
  • Reverify our ability to respond to a loss of electric power by confirming that we have adequate materials and procedures in place.
  • Reverify our ability to respond to floods, including their impact on systems inside and outside the plant.
  • Perform walk downs and inspections of important equipment needed to successfully respond to fires and floods.

What measures are in place at U.S. nuclear facilities to ensure public safety?

A: Nuclear power plants are designed for safety, with multiple barriers and redundant and diverse safety systems. The ability to withstand natural events, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, was incorporated into the design of all U.S. nuclear plants. Plant designs also include additional “margin” above design requirements. Seismic hazards are based on plant location and geology, and the maximum predicted earthquake.

In addition, all U.S. plants are designed to withstand a station blackout — the total loss of all alternating-current power. Duke Energy plants have on-site power sources beyond the regulatory minimum to provide additional safety margin. This includes, but is not limited to, diesel and steam-driven generators/pumps, batteries, and independent support facilities that can be used in the event of an emergency. Post-Sept. 11 measures require U.S. nuclear plants to also be able to cope with significant destruction due to fires, explosions and aircraft impacts. Additionally, U.S. nuclear power plant operators have guidelines to follow in the unlikely event that a severe accident results in fuel damage, and we regularly practice our response to various severe accidents in emergency preparedness drills.

Will the events in Japan affect the future of the U.S. nuclear industry?

A: It’s premature to draw conclusions about the impact of the Japanese nuclear crisis on the U.S. The events in Japan will be thoroughly analyzed in the coming months. The nuclear industry regularly studies and learns from shared operating experience. We will incorporate lessons learned from this event into the operation of our existing plants, as well as future plants, and continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of our communities.

Nuclear energy has been and will continue to play a key role in meeting America’s energy needs. Duke Energy is continuing with development activities for our proposed Lee Nuclear Station in order to make safe, reliable and affordable electricity available for our customers for years into the future.

Photo of Terry Moore
Terry Moore
Reactor Systems Engineer, McGuire Nuclear Station
I’m accountable for the safe storage of used fuel at McGuire Nuclear Station. Primarily, I’m responsible for the management of dry cask storage.

McGuire, like many nuclear stations across the country, stores used fuel in pools and dry casks. Dry casks are above-ground storage units that safely and securely house the station’s used fuel. These casks are rugged containers made of steel and concrete, which will protect the fuel under extreme conditions such as earthquakes and floods. They are monitored and licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The used fuel is moved to dry casks after it has been safely stored and cooled in deep pools for several years. These pools, located in reinforced concrete buildings, are steel-lined, concrete vaults filled with water, providing protection for the fuel assemblies. My responsibilities include technical support for loading the casks and overseeing the fuel handling equipment, which loads the fuel and transports the casks from the used fuel pools to the dry storage area on site.

I have written more than 100 pages of procedures on loading the casks. Loading used fuel into the dry casks is a detailed, methodical process that involves welding, draining and drying the casks, and operating high-tech machinery. This process is well coordinated and safely performed by well trained and highly skilled workers.

Helping McGuire to safely manage its used fuel is one way I have helped Duke Energy operate more sustainably during my 30 years of service.