Local News

N.C. Utilities Keeping Eye on Drought

Posted November 5, 2007 5:33 p.m. EST

— North Carolina's largest utilities said Monday that they're closely watching the ongoing drought to minimize its impact on power production.

Water plays an important role in generating electricity, from hydroelectric power to cooling towers at nuclear plants or steam suppression.

Representatives of Duke Energy, Progress Energy and other utilities talked to the North Carolina Utilities Commission on Monday about the impact of the drought on their businesses. Despite drops in lake and reservoir levels, the utilities said there has been no significant hit to power generation.

Duke Energy and Progress Energy said hydroelectric generation has been cut by 25 to 50 percent, but hydroelectric power accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of total electricity provided by the two utilities.

The utilities said they have contingency plans in place, such as shifting loads or reducing generation, in case the drought reaches a crisis stage. But those plans are on standby, and no major changes are in the works, they said.