By Jeremy Loeb
A Durham-based environmental group warns utility companies are trying to add nuclear capacity without significantly reducing their use of coal power. A report from NC WARN focuses on what they call the “Southeast Five.” That includes both Duke Energy and Progress Energy. Jim Warren is executive director of NC WARN.
Jim Warren: Despite all the PR claims about moving to a low-carbon future, the southeast five have no intention of closing their large coal-fired power plants. Instead, they are pursuing costly and unneeded nuclear and natural gas projects while blocking proven energy efficiency programs, along with solar and wind power.
A Progress Energy spokesman says nuclear power is the only carbon-neutral technology that can be produced on a utility scale. He says the company is closing a number of coal-fired plants. Warren says many of those are small plants and some aren’t even being used. William Schlesinger is President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He says the world is quickly approaching a tipping point of irreversible carbon pollution.
William Schlesinger: I think we need to look beyond the current inaction in Congress, almost the circus that surrounds the politicization of climate change debates in Congress. I think the scientific community is certain that we are destined for a significant amount of human-induced climate change in the next decades and century.
A Duke Energy spokeswoman says they have a legal obligation to provide power to all their customers— and they do that through a combination of coal, nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy. Schlesinger says he hopes utilities will do more than the bare minimum in combating climate change.
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