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Duke’s Carbon-Constrained Future

east-bend2.jpgDuke Energy is the nation’s third-largest corporate emitter of carbon dioxide – after American Electric Power and Southern Co. Depending on what controls Congress passes on carbon emissions, that’s a potentially crippling threat for Duke, Forbes reports.

If utilities are required to buy credits for all their CO2 emissions in a government-run auction, instead of being granted credits covering their current output, most experts predict the price will hit around $30 a ton (here are some recent predictions on pricing from New Carbon Finance) – that would raise utility rates by 30 percent in the Carolinas, according to Rogers.

Rogers thinks conservation can take some of the burden off utilities (Duke has a number of plans to increase its use of alternative energy). He’s pushing an old idea that would allow a utility to earn money off the megawatts its customers don’t use. Rogers calls this program Save-A-Watts.  Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy calls it “the most audacious, overreaching revenue stream I have ever seen,” the article reports.

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