Duke Energy wins NC court case regarding renewable energy; Burning trees in power plants counts August 6, 2011Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy.
Tags: Duke Energy, North Carolina Court of Appeals, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, North Carolina Utilities Commission
by Chris Bagley, Triangle Business Journal
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that Duke Energy can count trees toward renewable energy quotas when it burns them in its power plants.
The decision affirms the North Carolina Utilities Commission’s earlier ruling that Duke can count whole, harvested trees as renewable biomass energy in order to meet quotas that go into effect next year. The Environmental Defense Fund and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association had sued to block Duke from counting trees as renewable biomass.
“Any resource that can be considered a biomass because it is organic and renewable is a biomass resource within the plain meaning of the statute,” Judge Sanford Steelman wrote in the 3-0 opinion, which was joined by Judge Ann Marie Calabria and Judge Rick Elmore. “All wood fuel meets these criteria.”
The case arose over Duke’s designation of power plants in Rowan County and in Anderson County, South Carolina, as renewable energy facilities, following test runs with a mix of coal and wood chips. The EDF and the NC Sustainable Energy Association had argued that state law did not specify whole trees as a biomass resource alongside waste methane, animal waste, agricultural waste and energy crops. The state legislature passed the law in 2007, requiring public utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their energy from biomass and other renewable energy resources by 2012.
Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE: DUK) provides power in the western half of the Triangle.