By Julie Janson
Executive Vice President and CEO, Carolinas
There are a lot of things I get excited about in the energy transition, and nuclear energy is among the top on the list.
Duke Energy operates the largest regulated nuclear fleet in the nation with 11 units of carbon-free workhorses that run with incredible consistency to serve customers 24/7. Nuclear provides 56% of our energy in the Carolinas and provides 83% of all the carbon-free power the company generates.
In addition to gearing up for new nuclear technologies like small modular reactors, we’ve also invested over the years to keep our existing units updated so we can continue their safe operations into the future. We’re in the process of renewing the license on those units, and our net-zero carbon goal is not possible without them.
The Department of Energy highlights that nuclear energy provides “more clean energy to the grid than any other energy source, accounting for half of the country’s clean energy electricity production.” I hear our 4,500 nuclear employees applauding now.
Federal tax credits for nuclear energy production are on the horizon and recognize the critical role regulated nuclear plays in achieving important carbon reductions. They also incentivize operating these plants as cost efficiently as possible.
The nuclear production tax credits would help reduce the cost of the energy transition to our customers. Once in effect, we estimate it would generate annual credits in the hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in 2024 for nine years. We would return those cost benefits back to customers over time and will work with state utility commissions on the best regulatory process to do that.
We’ve been very fortunate in North Carolina and South Carolina to have public policy champions at both the federal and state level who recognize the value of nuclear energy and the economic engine it is for the communities we serve.
These tax credits represent meaningful dollars, and we’re awaiting U.S. Department of Treasury guidance to implement this provision as Congress intended. This is all part of our long-term vision for how we can continue to reliably meet the growing energy demand in our region while we keep costs affordable for our customers.