The N.C. Utilities Commission won't get involved in a stalled contract negotiation between Duke Energy and a biomass-fueled power plant that the operator says will be shut down unless Duke agrees to buy the plant's electricity.
The owners of the Coastal Carolina Clean Power facility in Kenansville say the closure of the 32-megawatt plant will cost 24 jobs and will end an environmentally safe disposal option for tons of turkey manure in Duplin County.
CCCP, which currently burns wood at the plant, was poised for a $12 million upgrade to add poultry waste to its fuel mix. But Charlotte-based Duke said CCCP wanted to charge too much for its electricity and the utility refused to renew its power-purchase contract, which has been in place since 2008 and expires Dec. 31.
CCCP asked the Utilities Commission to step in and set a regulated price for the subsidy Duke would have to pay for CCCP's renewable electricity. North Carolina utilities are required to buy subsidized renewable power under a 2007 law, but the Utilities Commission said it wouldn't set a subsidy price.
"For the Commission to do so would risk opening the floodgates to all potential renewable energy generators dissatisfied in their dealings with the electric power suppliers," the Commission wrote. "The Commission previously chose not to inject itself in the electric power suppliers' decision-making process and is not persuaded that it should now begin to do so."