Duke Energy: Indiana’s energy grid ‘will be restored’ by 2022
By Shannon HealyThe Irish Times | March 19, 2021 08:48:02With the state-owned electric utility Duke Energy announcing last week it will restore its power grid to meet demand by 2022, it is the latest step in a long and complex effort to secure the future of the state’s energy network.
In the past, the utility has sought to recover lost capacity through an aggressive buy-back programme, which has been criticized by residents and environmental groups.
The company has also faced criticism over a deal to sell the power network to a Chinese energy giant.
The utility has said the sale would have been possible under a new plan put in place by former Governor Mitch Daniels.
Duke Energy’s acquisition of a 49.9% stake in a joint venture to manage its energy supply is one of the latest steps in a lengthy and complex project to revitalise the state.
The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with a return to the state grid of full power by 2022.
Under the plan, Duke Energy will sell the remaining 49.7% of its power to a consortium of companies, which will maintain its assets and remain under the control of the utility.
In a statement on Monday, Duke said the transaction was “a win-win for the State of Indiana, the communities we serve and the environment.”
It said it is “working diligently to ensure the best possible future for Indiana residents and the state of Indiana as a whole”.
The utility is seeking to sell a 49% stake of its assets to a joint-venture consortium, and the consortium will maintain control of its remaining 49% of the power system.
“Duke believes this sale is a win-lose-win, as we will continue to serve customers, create jobs and grow our business,” said Jeff Ritter, a Duke spokesman.
Dakota Power, the state power authority, is working with Duke Energy and other parties to finalise the transaction.
Dale Sturgess, the president of the Indiana Utility Association, welcomed the deal, saying the deal gives “a long-term investment that will help build a stronger electric grid”.
“We are pleased that Duke Energy is able to support our local communities by taking on these challenging projects,” he said.
The deal comes amid a wave of job losses at the utility, as it struggles to recover from the massive blackouts that have struck the state this winter.
The state’s total energy demand is predicted to rise from about 15,000 megawatts in 2020 to about 21,000MW by 2030.
The Duke deal has been hailed by Indiana’s Democratic Governor Mike Pence, who has been critical of the coal industry’s investment in the state and said in May that he was considering a moratorium on coal-fired electricity.
The state has also invested $100 million in solar power plants in order to reduce the statewide blackouts.