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Indiana Beyond Coal Campaign calls for Duke Energy to transition to 100% renewable energy

Rahul Durai with Confront the Climate Crisis calls on Duke to transition to renewable energy sources (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Climate activists and West Lafayette city officials gathered Saturday to call on Duke Energy to commit to transitioning to 100% renewable energy.

Duke Energy supplies electricity for 7.9 million customers across six states, including Indiana. In 2020, 84% of the energy generated by Duke in the state came from coal. 

Across the entire company, 22% of Duke’s energy generation comes from coal, 2% from a mix of hydro and renewable energy, and the rest from nuclear and natural gas. The company says it will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

In contrast, Consumer’s Energy -- a utility company in Michigan serving 6.7 million customers -- plans to eliminate coal by 2025 and generate 90% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2040. The company gets 22% of its energy from coal and 11% from renewables

Rahul Durai is a West Lafayette high school student and member of Confront the Climate Crisis. He said Duke’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 isn’t good enough. 

“I know it sounds good: Net-zero by 2050. But if everyone is doing net-zero by 2050 our planet is doomed. That’s just the truth,” he said. “The youth are watching Duke.”

Dave Henderson is the utility director for the city of West Lafayette. He said local efforts to reduce emissions rely heavily on power companies like Duke. 

“There is really very little we can affect without the energy portion of it being addressed,” he said.

State Representative Chris Campbell speaking at the event (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

And Kathy Parker, a West Lafayette city council member, said the city has set emission reduction goals and declared a climate action emergency. 

“Despite all the proactive intentions of the West Lafayette city government, the seemingly insurmountable roadblock to progress is our public utility, Duke Energy,” she said.

A spokesperson for Duke Energy in Indiana, Angeline Protogere, said the company is phasing in more renewable energy but needs to have a mix of renewables and other sources. 

“Because some generation sources are better for the environment, some are economical, and some are required for meeting 24/7 energy needs,” she said. “Solar and wind power definitely have a role to play and we are going to be adding more to our system.”

The company is expected to release an energy plan for the next twenty years sometime in November.