Duke Energy has proposed the creation of a new green tariff program that would cater to commercial customers in South Carolina who need access to 24/7 clean energy to meet their environmental ambitions.
If approved by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina, the new program and changes to existing programs would allow commercial customers to opt into green tariffs ranging from short-term purchases of environmental attributes associated with renewable energy, to contracts for new renewable energy generation with battery storage to facilitate 24/7 coverage.
Although initiated in South Carolina as a result of economic development efforts, Lon Huber, senior vice president of pricing and customer solutions for Duke Energy, said the new tariff structure could serve as a template for other states.
Duke Energy doesn’t think access to 24/7 renewable energy should be limited to the largest commercial buyers of the world — but it wouldn’t complain if Google applied to their newly proposed green tariff, either.
The company announced on Wednesday that it has filed a proposal with the South Carolina PSC to create new green tariff options enabling commercial customers to build their own 24/7 renewable energy packages. The proposal also seeks to modify existing tariffs to create more flexibility for businesses of all budgets and climate ambitions.
For customers just beginning their renewable energy journey, the proposal calls for the creation of a new Clean Energy Impact program that would allow commercial customers to enter short-term contracts for environmental attributes associated with renewable energy. On the other end, the proposal calls for some revisions to the existing Green Source Advantage program, which allows companies to secure renewable energy from third parties connected to the Duke Energy grid. The changes would allow customers to contract for up to 100% of their energy use, and expands the number of renewable resources eligible for the program to include third-party energy storage.
A new middle option, which Duke Energy calls Renewable Choice, would allow customers to procure 100%, 24/7 renewable energy directly from the utility.
While the new proposal does create some new options for residential customers to purchase renewable energy offsets, the 100%, 24/7 energy option will not be available to residents, according to Huber. This exclusion of residential customers drew criticism from environmental groups.
“Like with any clean energy claims Duke makes, this one should also be viewed with a healthy dose of suspicion by South Carolina ratepayers,” said Alex Formuzis, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group. “It’s short on specifics and will financially benefit commercial-and-utility scale solar projects, including Duke’s, over residential customers.”
Huber said the new options, if approved, would benefit the South Carolina economy, and were born out of economic development efforts in which companies repeatedly expressed they were looking to locate in states where they could access 24/7, time-aligned renewable energy programs.
“We had a series of stakeholder meetings on topics like this and listened to feedback on our current programs, and felt this suite of programs was needed to meet where our customers were going to be, especially with large, new economic development opportunities,” Huber said.