Duke Energy renews contract with biomass energy producer

By Duke Energy | January 31, 2018

Duke Energy has renewed a long-term power purchase agreement with a 50-megawatt biomass facility in North Carolina, continuing the company's pursuit to diversify its electricity mix with biomass and alternative energy.

Craven County Wood Energy in New Bern is a 24-hour-a-day baseload plant that supplies enough power annually to satisfy the energy needs of more than 30,000 homes for a year.

The facility uses mainly wood waste and poultry (turkey) waste to generate electricity. Throughout its 25 years of operation, the facility has been upgraded to use more poultry waste—going from 10 percent to 25 percent currently. It has plans to go as high as 30 percent.

"The increased usage of poultry waste will help Duke Energy better meet state mandates for renewable energy and makes the facility more valuable to the company and its customers," said Gary Freeman, general manager of Duke Energy's renewable energy compliance.

Duke Energy will buy 100 percent of the energy and associated renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the facility. A REC is a commodity equal to 1 megawatt-hour of renewable generation.

Under North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, Duke Energy must eventually meet 0.21 percent of its overall power sales with energy generated by swine and poultry waste. North Carolina is the only state with a renewable energy carveout for swine and poultry waste.

The poultry waste requirement is set to increase over the next two years, and the CCWE contract will provide Duke Energy with valuable RECs to meet the increased compliance requirements.

"We are pleased that we will continue to provide renewable, reliable energy that meets the needs of homes and businesses in our region—while also continuing to support not only our employees but 150 other families who supply us with goods and materials," said Robert Van Ells, CCWE's plant manager.

CCWE has about 50 employees and also supports jobs in logging, trucking, welding, parts supply industries and many other local merchants in the area. Its use of waste wood lessens the amount of materials going to local landfills. It is an important economic contributor to the region.

"Craven County is excited about our continued, long-term relationship with Craven County Wood Energy. From employment, both direct and indirect, to alternative energy production, CCWE plays a vital role in the economic development of our community," said Timothy Downs, director of economic development for Craven County.