Everybody has something to say about electricity in the South. Duke thinks it needs to cost more; Duke, on the other hand, thinks there's no reason it needs to be more expensive.

Hey, wait a minute.

Okay, that's what happens when your local power company is Duke Energy and the smart guys up the road sit around at Duke University. In these parts, Washington Duke and his sons left something of a large mark.

The folks at Duke Energy want to make a predictable rate hike -- they're asking for 7.2 percent in North Carolina, which Duke says it needs because of all the money it's spending upgrading transmission lines, replacing power plants, and complying with new pollution controls. The case is still in front of regulators -- Duke settled for a 6 percent hike in South Carolina -- which makes the release of a study by the other Dukes somewhat ill-timed.

The study, called "Myths and facts about electricity in the U.S. South," comes out of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke and the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy and appeared in colume 40 of the journal Energy Policy. It concludes, as its abstract highlights say, that "clean energy myths help lock Southern energy policy in the status quo." Those myths include the belief that energy efficiency and renewable energy can't keep up with growing demand; that not only does the South lack renewable resources but renewable energy requires rate increases; and that power use doesn't much affect water resources.

Well, according to the study authors, "Nuh-unh." Okay, that's not a direct quote, but here's one: “The South has an abundance of sustainable energy technologies and resources, but misperceptions about their availability and readiness result in support for conventional energy systems.” That's from study coauthor Marilyn Brown. She's a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, but "Tech versus Duke" sounded like an ACC basketball story, so I focused on the Duke side of the study authorship for the headline. Sue me.

The study urges the use of notes that a carbon tax to go along with energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will can help power companies retire old, inefficient, and polluting plants and replace them with newer, more-efficient ones. Again -- And to be sure, renewable energy can move forward without escalating rates, according to the authors.

Wonder if the regulators are reading the study?

Images: Above, some Dukes, from "Trading Places"; below, some other Dukes. NB: May not be the Dukes referred to in this post.

Updates made 12/4/11 in response to kind clarifications from Erin McKenzie of the Duke Office of News & Communications.