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Duke Energy (DUK) Pushes for Clean Energy & Smarter Grid

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Duke Energy Corp. (DUK - Free Report) announced that its unit Duke Energy Florida has entered into an agreement with consumer representatives and business groups to work on the clean energy vision of the state. The agreement, filed on Jan 14, 2021, is subject to approval by the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC).

Path Toward Emission Reduction

The plan includes investment in electric vehicle charging stations and pilot programs for innovative technology, such as microgrids, floating of solar pilot projects and retirement of coal plants to modernize the electric grid and improve reliability. The agreement will provide a new optional residential “Time-of-Use” rate, which will reduce the hurricane cost recovery impact on customers. The new deal will eliminate credit card fees from the residential bill payments and offer a new residential rate to enhance customer choices.

The agreement will be effective January 2022 and include the base rate investments of nearly $5 billion over the next three years while minimizing its impact on the customer bills. If approval is received from the commission, the unit’s base rates will likely witness an increase of $67.2 million in 2022, $48.9 million in 2023 and an additional $79.2 million in 2024, adding up to $195.4 million. As a consequence, average residential and non-residential customers will see a bill increase of 3-4% and 1-6.5%, respectively, in 2022 while all customer classes will see a bill hike of 1-2% each in 2023 and 2024.

Previous Plans

Management had earlier announced retirement of coal plants in addition to the 50 coal units with capacity worth more than 6,500 megawatts (MW), which have been already retired since 2010. The company targets to retire all coal units in the Carolinas and trim methane emissions in its natural gas business to net zero by 2030.

Apart from retiring coal plants, the company is aggressively investing in solar and wind energy to reduce its carbon footprint. Duke Energy Florida is investing in bringing 700 MW of solar online by 2022 and filed a $1-billion shared solar program called Clean Energy Connection, which will add another 750 MW of solar power by the end of 2024.

Earlier, management had announced its planto bring more than 1,750 MW online and install above15,000 MW of additional energy storage by 2030. Duke Energy also intends to at least double its portfolio of solar, wind and other non-hydroelectric renewables by 2025. It will invest $65-$75 billion during the 2025-2029 period in enhancing its renewable capacity.

To further expand its renewable portfolio, the company focuses on the electric vehicle market. Notably, Duke Energy plans to convert most of its 10,000-vehicle fleet to electric by 2030.

Peer Plans

Apart from the company, utilities like Xcel Energy (XEL - Free Report) , DTE Energy (DTE - Free Report) and Avista Corporation (AVA - Free Report) chalked out a plan to supply 100% clean energy to customers.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Duke Energy currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the past six months, the stock has gained 13.6%, outperforming the industry’s 7.5% rise.

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