Please urge your media sources to investigate these charges…
NC WARN: Waste Awareness & Reduction Network
NEWS RELEASE Contact: Jim Warren
September 25, 2008 919-416-5077
Duke “Global Warming Machine” on Trial at Orangeburg Hearing
CEO Rogers must explain why Cliffside plant, new nukes would
be used for expansion outside Duke’s service area
Statement by Executive Director Jim Warren:
DURHAM, NC – Evidence mounts that Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is trying to pull a massive con job on Carolinas electricity customers concerned about rising power bills, air quality and brand new data about ominous climate tipping points. After spending two years insisting that building multi-billion dollar coal-fired and nuclear power plants is crucial to “keeping customers’ lights on,” the flamboyant energy boss must now explain why he’s attempting to add tens of thousands of customers far outside Duke’s service area.
In a legal filing yesterday with the NC Utilities Commission, NC WARN said Duke is building Cliffside to accommodate new markets, not to handle growth within its service area. In addition, NC WARN is charging that the company’s reserve margin is being kept artificially high in order to solicit out-of-area customers. Reducing that margin to the level used by Duke’s rivals, Progress Energy and Dominion Power, would on its own negate the need for Cliffside and two reactors planned in South Carolina.
If approved by the NC Utilities Commission following early November hearings, Duke will have stolen SC Electric’s largest customer, the town of Orangeburg, SC with a single contract that represents nearly one-quarter of the capacity Duke has begun constructing at the Cliffside plant. NC WARN is urging the Commission to disapprove the contract.
In addition to Orangeburg, Duke is seeking an unknown number of other large, outside customers. One, the town of Greenwood, SC is urging passage of the Orangeburg contract, which would pave the way for both Duke and Progress to contract with customers far beyond their monopoly service areas.
In our legal brief, attorney John Runkle wrote, “It would not be in the interest of the North Carolina ratepayers to bear the burden of paying for new, and expensive, power plants that they do not need.” Because of last year’s NC energy bill pushed through by utility allies in the legislature, Duke’s existing customers bear the brunt of financial risk for escalating costs of Cliffside and the Lee nuclear reactors.
The Utilities Commission’s Public Staff also opposes the Orangeburg contract, agreeing that Duke might be building new plants for large outside customers who would operate on fixed, finite contracts. If they choose not to renew the contracts, Duke’s service area customers would bear even more of the cost of new, unnecessary plants. Regardless of the outside contracts, rising construction and operating costs could cause a doubling or tripling of power bills for present customers.
A most feared climate tipping point: This week, two separate teams of European researchers report that millions of tons of methane are bubbling into the atmosphere as the Arctic seabed begins to melt.* Because methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, scientists have long been concerned that this could lead to a drastic acceleration of global warming. This is even more reason to cancel new plants and cut hard toward energy efficiency. If we cross into self-sustaining climate change, the choice between solar, coal, wind or nukes will no longer matter.