Conservation dents growth at Duke Energy

Andy Uhler Aug 6, 2015
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Conservation dents growth at Duke Energy

Andy Uhler Aug 6, 2015
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Duke Energy, one of America’s largest utility holding companies, releases quarterly earnings Thursday. One factor: it’s selling less electricity.

Big energy companies like Duke ask customers to be smart about the way they use electricity. For example, using energy-efficient light bulbs.

“This offsets our load and reduces power demand, but over time we’re able to recoup some of those costs,” says Tom Williams, who has worked for Duke Energy for more than 20 years.

Duke is able to recoup some of the cost of reduced demand by selling surplus solar and wind energy to other utilities that are behind on their renewable energy quotas. But Duke still makes about 90 percent of its revenue from selling electricity directly to customers. Last year, its customer base increased by only 1 percent. And a lot of customers are using less electricity as people continue to change their behavior.

“They want clean energy, they want to be able to reduce their energy consumption, and utilities have a role to play in all that,” says Dan Bakal, director of electric power at Ceres. “This is where the industry is headed, and we’re seeing a lot of investment into renewable energy because the cost of them continue to go down.”

Duke has a plan to take renewable energy a step further than wind and solar. It recently put together a proposal to buy swine waste to make biogas.

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