Duke Energy Cuts Carbon Emissions, Provides Support to Communities

Duke Energy’s 2020 Sustainability Report details clean energy transition, progress on environmental and social issues
Apr 29, 2021 8:15 AM ET
Blog

In a challenging 2020, two achievements defined Duke Energy – progress on its climate goals and support for customers, communities and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its 2020 Sustainability Report released April 28, the company said it has reduced carbon emissions by more than 40 percent since 2005 and is on track to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. The company intends to cut carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

To achieve this, Duke Energy plans to triple the amount of renewable energy it produces by the end of the decade and plans to retire all remaining coal-fired only units in the Carolinas by 2030 and shorten average retirement dates by 40 percent in Indiana. The company has retired 52-coal-fired units since 2010.

Currently, 7 percent of company-owned electrical output comes from wind, solar and hydroelectric plants. That is projected to grow to 23 percent by 2030.

Here are highlights from the past year as Duke Energy worked toward its sustainability goals and supported customers through the pandemic. Duke Energy has:

  • Contracted, owned or operated 8.8 gigawatts of renewable energy with plans to roughly double that amount by 2025.
  • Expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including more than 570 charging stations in Florida while pilot programs were approved in North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • Announced plans to invest $600 million in new battery storage across regulated businesses over the next five years.
  • Donated more than $8 million to COVID-19 relief efforts from the company and its Foundation, including money to support hunger relief, local health and human services, education, public utility assistance and small businesses.
  • Supported customers coping with the pandemic, starting one of the first service disconnection moratoriums in the nation, offering flexible payment arrangements and engaging state and federal government for additional customer assistance.
  • Renewed its focus on social justice and racial equity, donating more than $2 million to organizations supporting these issues and developing company action plans to drive more diversity, equity and inclusion in its workforce, leadership, supply chain and communities.
  • Helped attract nearly 18,000 jobs and $9.1 billion in capital investment in its service area.

“I’m proud that we delivered for our customers and communities when they needed us the most,” CEO Lynn Good wrote in the report. “But we did more than just get through. We became a stronger, more agile company, intensifying our focus on environmental, social and governance considerations and accelerating our clean energy transformation.”

How Duke Energy will reach net-zero carbon emissions

To reach net-zero, Duke Energy will explore new technologies, expand renewable energy, retire coal plants and invest in an electric grid that’s smarter and more resilient. Check out these stories to learn about projects that will help advance Duke Energy's climate strategy.

New technology helps protect bats from wind turbines

The Bat Deterrent System, an ultrasonic acoustic device developed by NRG Systems, reduced overall bat fatalities at Duke Energy's Los Vientos Wind Project in Texas by 50 percent with reductions of nearly 80 percent in some species during a study last year. It was so successful, that Duke Energy will equip 255 wind turbines at Los Vientos with the device. It is the first commercial-scale installation in the continental United States.

How Duke Energy is supporting communities through crisis

From food banks to classrooms, bill assistance to small business grants and emergency funds, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas donated more than $8 million to help those struggling with the effects of COVID-19. In these stories from 2020, you can meet leaders making a difference in each the states the companies serve.

Duke Energy to cut carbon emissions through its vehicle fleet

Last year, the company announced it will convert 100 percent of its nearly 4,000 light-duty vehicles such as sedans and SUVs to electric and 50 percent of its 6,000 medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road vehicles such as pickups and bucket trucks to EVs, plug-in hybrids or other zero-carbon alternatives. By 2030, fleet electrification will reduce CO2 emissions by 60,000 metric tons per year, reduce petroleum use by 10 million gallons per year and reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) emissions.

Duke Energy employees choose $1 million in grants for social justice

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas asked its employees to choose the recipients of more than $1 million in grants to advance social justice and racial equity. The money will be split between 80 nonprofits in the seven states the companies serve. This is the first time that employees selected recipients – and the first time the Willa Carson Health and Wellness Center received a Duke Energy grant. Phyllis Young nominated the center because she grew up nearby and knows the positive effect it has on the community. 

Noblesville Indiana Schools installed LED lights for big energy savings

While remote digital learning during the pandemic has challenged parents, teachers and students, it opened the door for energy-efficient improvements on school campuses. Noblesville Schools in Indiana jumped at the opportunity and will save an estimated 4 million kilowatt-hours at three schools.