For the time being, Duke Energy's plans to build a twenty-one-megawatt natural gas-burning power plant on the Duke University campus are on hold, as officials from both the builder and potential host informed state regulators that they want to suspend the review process for the facility for six months.
While the news marks a victory for those who have been outspoken against a "fracked gas" plant existing on a progressive university campus, NC WARN executive director Jim Warren was only cautiously optimistic about the project's latest turn.
"It's not over—and we'll keep working with allies to keep the pressure on," he said in a news release. "Stopping the industry scheme has widespread ramifications for the fracking boom and the incredibly potent methane gas pouring from natural gas operations. ... Building large power plants is making the climate crisis worse—by squandering precious years and dollars that should be going toward energy efficiency, renewables, and energy storage."
According to Duke University's website, the plant that the university and Duke Energy have proposed building the plant on the west campus would generate electricity for North Carolina's grid, "as well as an estimated 85,000 pounds per hour of steam and hot water for Duke University and Duke Medical Center." The facility would cost an estimated $55 million and be owned by Duke Energy.
The university claims that the plant would "reduce the university's carbon dioxide emissions and save money," but acknowledges that "some university community members have voiced concerns."
That's putting it mildly.
"We're pushing for a transparent path the campus and community can be proud of," NC WARN says on its website. "As it becomes clear that the climate crisis is being driven by methane emissions from the fracking boom, humanity badly needs [Duke University's] leadership."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Frack Cracks."