Push clean energy
The author of “Cooper should crack down on Duke Energy’s hazards” (Nov. 29) was courageous in calling out Duke Energy’s hazardous practices and stranglehold on our democracy. The third leg of Duke’s business model – along with building unneeded power plants and raising rates – is spending tens of millions annually to distort and suppress debate.
Why? To avoid attention to its massive expansion of natural gas power plants and pipelines, and the venting of methane that makes “natural” gas even worse than coal in driving global climate disruption. Prodigious advertising paints Duke green, even though renewables are well under 2 percent of its Carolinas generation and will creep to only 6 percent by 2031. Solar-with-batteries for homes and businesses is beginning to surge globally because it’s becoming cheaper than grid power.
A Duke Energy official was recently quoted by Forbes admitting that battery storage will “blanket the U.S.” within five years. But Duke execs are still fighting to limit solar growth so they can build 20 gas power plants. How long will state civic and political leaders allow Duke Energy to suppress open discussion about these critical decisions? Every news outlet should be scrutinizing Duke’s role in making the climate crisis worse and explore the solar-battery approach that could economically replace coal and natural gas within a few years. NC WARN joins Appalachian Voices in calling for Gov. Roy Cooper to stand up to Duke’s “corporate charlatans,” block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and move forward with cheaper, reliable clean energy solutions.
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Executive Director, NC WARN
Duke Energy’s response
In “Cooper should crack down on Duke Energy’s hazards” (Nov. 29) the author says that companies should put the health and welfare of their customers and neighbors first. That’s exactly what we’re doing at Duke Energy as we safely and permanently close the coal ash basins of our past and plan for our future energy needs with a modernized grid and new natural gas pipeline.
Regrettably, the author has chosen outrage over objectivity in arguing against progress. She misrepresents the credibility and quality of scientific research used to inform Duke Energy’s coal ash basin closure decisions. The studies are based on parameters set out in state law and by environmental regulators. Research is being conducted by faculty at UNC Charlotte and is being reviewed by other leading national experts before it goes to the state for further review. These experts are not Duke Energy employees and bring an independent perspective. This is some of the most rigorous groundwater research ever conducted in North Carolina. Duke Energy and the experts involved are accountable for the research and its credibility. We stand by it.
Similarly, the author’s attack on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is also misguided. As providers of the electricity that powers our state and economy, it is incumbent on us to plan as much as 30 years in advance to ensure we can maintain a reliable and affordable supply of energy to meet today’s needs and those of the future. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are pursuing the new natural gas pipeline so that we can continue meeting the needs of a growing population with this vital public service. In one of the most rigorous and transparent permitting processes ever conducted, federal agencies have found the pipeline project can responsibly develop infrastructure in a way that protects residents, preserves the environment and protects our natural resources. In addition, the pipeline will be essential in restoring opportunity and paving the way for prosperity for some of the most disadvantaged counties in eastern North Carolina. We will continue to aggressively defend this important work on behalf of our customers and communities.
President, Duke Energy’s Carolinas Region
Use tax cut
Regarding “Duke Energy rate increase focused on coal ash cleanup cost” (Nov. 26): Duke Energy’s 2016 Annual Report shows its Carolinas business tax bill at $634 million, about 35 percent of its income. The very likely federal tax reduction from 35 percent to 20 percent will give Duke Carolinas about $250 million a year, more than enough to pay their estimate of coal-ash reclamation expenses.
Why should rate payers/residents pay that expense twice – once in significant rate increases, and again in a big tax break for Duke? What a great decision Duke would make to use its tax windfall for coal-ash reclamation and keep the burden off rate payers.
‘Dance goes on’
Regarding “Duke Energy rate increase focused on coal ash cleanup cost” (Nov. 26): I went to the NC Utility Commission’s public hearing for the proposed Duke Energy Progress rate hike of 16.7 percent in Raleigh on Sept. 25 with two friends who hadn’t ever attended one. They were quite impressed with the hearing, especially with the intelligent and fact-filled statements opposing the rate hike offered by ratepayers. I’ve been attending such hearings since 2002, and while I was also very admiring of the content of those statements, I knew the event was just a step in the rate-hike dance that has been going on before my eyes these 15 years.
Step One: Duke proposes outrageous rate hike percentage and public hearing is held. Step Two: Duke and public staff engage in behind-the-scenes “negotiation” to mimic response to rate hike opposition. Step Three: NCUC announces Duke will accept a lower percentage increase. On the way home from the hearing that night, I predicted the compromise rate would be around 9 percent. It would certainly be a rate equal to the amount Duke Energy Progress really hoped to get. I don’t know the figure that will be named in the negotiations that are in progress as I write, but clearly the dance goes on.