The Waiting Game: Part 4 of Duke’s Natural Gas Plant Debate

This is the last installment of Energy Valley’s series on the proposed combined heat and power plant on Duke University’s campus. In summation, I would like to provide some closing thoughts on the implications of the plant and what we’ve learned so far as a community.

We know that Duke Energy and Duke University in the efforts to complete this deal, may have misstepped in the way they dispersed information to the campus and public at large. Furthermore, there has been little done to concretely include community stakeholders at the discussion table.

However, there have been attempts to rebuild the trust between student groups, faculty members and other skeptics of the plan by creating an atmosphere of open dialogue. There have been two events thus far; the forum hosted by Duke Energy Initiative and the town hall hosted by Duke Climate Coalition.

The key differences between these two events was that the DCC event hosted community, non-Duke stakeholders to speak on the plant.

Where are we now?

Duke Energy has already filed the proposal for approval from North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). In the public document, the timeline of this plant would be 35 years, pending NCUC approval. Construction would begin as early as early 2017, with commercial operation beginning in the first half of 2019.

What can you do?

Whether you oppose the plan or support it, there is still a chance to voice your opinion before the NCUC. Any person can request a wider public hearing on the application by emailing

While we wait to see the NCUC’s verdict, we can only be sure that the issues are more complicated than they appear. There is dissent related to the accounting principles behind how much reduction we could claim on Duke University’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). There are nuanced arguments about the validity of natural gas a “bridge fuel”.

Additionally, there is still the nagging sense that the wheels are in motion; once the NCUC approves, the plant is only one board meeting away from built. Despite this, we must maintain the spirit of active environmental involvement at every step of the way. It is up to us as individuals to keep demanding transparency, innovation, and better processes.

For any questions and comments, please email me at