There are two Letters to the Editor below. The first one is by NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren calling out Duke Energy’s role in accelerating the climate crisis, the second is a response by Duke’s Chief Communications Officer Selim Bingol. We will have a rebuttal to their letter soon.
Letter to the Editor
The global climate crisis is harming North Carolinians in many ways, as documented by the March 12 Point of View “When warming consequences disrupt lives,” in farming, fishing, tourism and more. Heat waves, droughts and super storms are devastating millions of people worldwide and are on track to, perhaps abruptly, outstrip this state’s ability to cope.
After all these years, it is astounding that this state’s news media, academics and progressive political leaders, to the extent they mention climate change at all, continue ignoring two key questions: What are we doing that contributes to this threat to humanity? Is there anything we might do to help avert catastrophe?
The elephant in the room is Duke Energy, the nation’s largest carbon-polluting utility, based in Charlotte.
Duke is driving carbon emissions higher at the worst possible time. By planning to build 15 fracking-gas power plants in the Carolinas and pipelines to supply them, Duke is crashing headlong into some cold, hard facts: Methane leakage is the nation’s leading greenhouse gas problem and fracking economics is increasingly risky.
Our strong academic and media outlets and people of goodwill across the political spectrum must demand open debate about our climate and energy challenges.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NC WARN
See original letter here
Selim Bingol: Duke Energy evolving for the future
The latest is that the public debate on climate issues is being stifled, which must come as a surprise to anyone who reads the paper, watches TV or opens an Internet browser.
When NC WARN fought our plans to retire a coal plant in Asheville and replace it with a cleaner gas plant, the North Carolina Utilities Commission categorically rejected it, saying: “The Commission determines NC WARN’s assertions of excess capacity overly simplistic and lacking credibility.” That’s just the latest example. Unfortunately, history says there will be more.
In the meantime, we are not “driving carbon emissions higher.” We have reduced them by 44 million tons (28 percent) versus 2005. We are retiring coal plants across our system and adding natural gas to our generation mix – the same fuel that President Obama said is “creating jobs, lowering many families’ heat and power bills and it’s the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution.”
And here’s something that should warm even NC WARN’s heart: We continue adding more renewables, too.
We’ve helped make North Carolina No. 4 in the nation in solar. Overall, the amount of wind and solar capacity Duke Energy has can power the equivalent of nearly 1 million homes, with more on the way. All while keeping electricity rates in North Carolina well below the national average.
We are proud to have powered our state for more than 100 years, and we welcome legitimate debate as we lead North Carolina to a smarter, cleaner energy future.
CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, DUKE ENERGY
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response.