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In annual routine, NC utilities granted delay in swine, poultry waste benchmarks

In what has become routine in recent years, North Carolina's electricity suppliers have been granted a delay in meeting state requirements for generating power from animal waste.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission, in an Oct. 16 order, delayed the swine waste requirement for one additional year and lowered the poultry waste requirement for 2017 to the same level as 2016. The state's electricity providers are now required to generate 0.07% of their electricity from swine waste resources in 2018 and 2019 and must produce 170,000 MWh from poultry waste resources in 2017, which is the same benchmark carried over from 2014-2016.

Duke Energy Corp. utilities Duke Energy Carolinas LLC and Duke Energy Progress LLC, as well as Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary Dominion Energy North Carolina, are among the utilities and power providers that have routinely asked regulators to delay the swine waste set-aside requirement and lower the poultry waste set-aside requirement. In August, the electricity suppliers asked regulators to delay "all of the compliance obligations" for swine waste until 2018 and lower the poultry waste benchmark to 170,000 MWh from 700,000 MWh for 2017 and delay subsequent increases until 2018.

North Carolina's renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard, or REPS, passed in 2007, requires investor-owned utilities to generate up to 12.5% of their energy needs through energy efficiency or renewable energy resources, including swine and poultry waste, by 2021. As written, the law calls for 0.20% of the total electric power sold to retail electric customers to be supplied by swine waste by 2018. The law originally also required at least 900,000 MWh of total electric power sold to retail customers be supplied by poultry waste by 2014.

The commission, however, has agreed to delay and modify the swine waste and poultry waste benchmarks several times in recent years. Regulators contend that although power suppliers have made reasonable efforts to meet statewide swine and poultry waste requirements, the lack of waste-to-energy technology and cautious lenders and investors has hindered their progress.

The most recent changes require that 0.20% of total electric power sold to retail customers is supplied by swine waste in 2022 and thereafter. In addition, 900,000 MWh of electricity that is sold to retail customers must be generated from poultry waste by 2019.

Dominion Energy North Carolina is known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co. (NCUC docket E-100, SUB 113)