by Sue Sturgis
A newly-formed coalition of advocacy groups has launched a campaign to end Duke Energy’s longstanding monopoly control over most of North Carolina’s electric system in hopes that permitting competition among power generators would hasten the shift to clean energy and bring pollution relief to vulnerable communities.
The members of the Energy Justice NC coalition include local, regional, and national environmental and social justice organizations. Among them are 350.org, Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, Down East Coal Ash Coalition, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, and the NC Environmental Justice Network. Another member of the coalition is climate watchdog NC WARN, which has long pressed for an end to Duke’s monopoly.
The coalition recently held a press conference in Raleigh to announce its formation and outline its goals, which also include getting state and local officials to stop accepting the company’s political contributions and appointees to the N.C. Utilities Commission who will stand up to Duke and put the public interest first. The coalition announced it was launching a petition for energy choice in North Carolina and invited individuals, organizations, and businesses to sign on. It also said it is pursuing legislation, though none has been introduced yet.
“Duke’s energy monopoly, where dirty power is king, needs to end,” said Jean Su, energy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The climate crisis demands we ditch fossil fuels as fast as possible, but Duke’s stranglehold on North Carolina is stopping the clean energy transition in its tracks.”
(article also includes an excellent history of utility legislation and regulation, and a summary of current restructuring efforts nationwide)