Letters to the Editor

David Fountain: Nonprofits blocking real energy solutions

Regarding the July 7 Point of View “An alarming move to silence nonprofits”: Richard Clerkin was right about the value nonprofit organizations bring to North Carolina.

Duke Energy has a legacy of support for nonprofits that few can match. Last year alone, we invested $20 million in nonprofit organizations to advance educational and environmental efforts and to expand workforce training and economic development.

But Clerkin misrepresented the issue that has arisen between those who support bringing cleaner energy resources in Asheville to serve all of Duke Energy’s customers in North Carolina and South Carolina and NC WARN and The Climate Times, which oppose that solution.

The real question is why Clerkin believes all of those customers, including low-income residential customers and other credible nonprofits, should pay $240 million more for the new power plant as a result of delays from NC WARN and The Climate Times’ attempted appeal.

No one should be above the law, but NC WARN and The Climate Times argue that they should be. These two groups have fought against our work to retire a 1960s coal-fired power plant in favor of a cleaner natural gas plant.

This is nothing new – NC WARN has fought against reasonable, rational energy solutions at every turn for nearly 30 years and frequently lost.

The issue here is not whether small nonprofits need money to advocate their positions. Both of these groups had ample opportunities to make their case before regulators and others and were rejected each time.

In rejecting those arguments in Asheville, the North Carolina Utilities Commission said the groups’ assertions were “overly simplistic and lacking credibility” and “appear to demonstrate a lack of fundamental understanding as to the difference between capacity and energy, a fundamental lack of understanding as to how load forecasts are prepared and approved by this commission, as well as a fundamental lack of understanding of how electric systems are planned and maintained for a reliable and least cost system.” The real issue is, how much damage can these groups inflict through meritless delays?

While the groups seek to confuse and delay, construction is interrupted, contracts are jeopardized and our customers have to wait for the new, cleaner gas plant to replace the old coal plant. That has real costs, and those costs are reflected in the bond they must pay, under the law.

The Asheville community and its leaders played a critical role in shaping their clean energy future, and we are proud of that collaborative process. Now that’s in jeopardy.

If successful, NC WARN, a Durham organization, will be responsible for keeping the Asheville coal plant in operation longer than necessary.

Nonprofit organizations should have the right to advocate. Yet, no organization should be able to use advocacy and half-truths as weapons to block real energy solutions that have already been publicly reviewed and approved by regulators.

David Fountain

North Carolina President, Duke Energy

Raleigh

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View.

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