Op-Ed by Jim Warren. There’s good news – outside of North Carolina – in the increasingly desperate fight to slow the climate crisis before its own momentum makes acceleration unstoppable. Economical storage, the long-sought Holy Grail of renewable energy, is surging in the marketplace while climate-wrecking fracked “natural” gas has begun to decline. Op-Ed also featured in Raleigh News & Observer, Fayetteville Observer, and Greensboro News & Record.
Duke/Kochs' Control of Government
Duke Energy and others in the energy industry consistently use deceptive public relations – and millions of customer dollars – to distort the debate over important decisions. Duke’s control over NC state government is significant. We must face this “inconvenient truth” in order to make the shift to clean, safe energy. This corporate influence has, in the words of Dr. James Hansen, wounded our democracy.
Particularly egregious are efforts by Duke, the Koch brothers and other industry powers to slow the growth of solar energy and, in North Carolina, to prevent competition from third-party providers of no-upfront-cost solar deals that put solar energy within reach of many more homeowners and businesses. Another good example of corporate power is the passage in some states of Construction Work in Progress laws that allow utilities to charge customers in advance for building expensive new plants that aren’t even needed.
In 2015, Duke Energy, the Koch Brothers and others successfully kept the Energy Freedom bill bottled up in committee at the NC legislature. The bill would have opened up NC to third-party solar deals. Read about our 2015 Duke Hates Solar campaign in support of the bill.
Read about our Solar Freedom project at Faith Community Church in Greensboro — a test case in the state’s ban on third-party sales of electricity.
Direct Appeals for Dialogue with Duke Energy
NC WARN has repeatedly reached out to Duke Energy executives, seeking to collaborate with them on moving away from obstructionism and toward a clean energy future. A few examples are listed here.
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This Sunday, the entire New York Times Magazine will be composed of just one article on a single subject: the failure to confront the global climate crisis in the 1980s, a time when the science was settled and the politics seemed to align. Written by Nathaniel Rich, this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud.
The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement — the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016 — hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in 20.
Solar advocates who objected to Duke Energy Corp.’s initial proposal for a new community solar program don’t like the revised program much better and are calling on regulators to require more changes or reject it. “The revised plan is a significantly worse program than the initial program,” says the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, contending the new proposal would be much more costly to customers than the original version.
Duke Energy’s proposed “community solar” proposal would cause participating customers to lose 51 percent of their investment and would take five years to implement. The program is clearly designed to fail and is further proof that the Charlotte-based corporation prefers to stifle and delay – not advance – clean energy.
See coverage in Charlotte Business Journal
The NC Utilities Commission ordered this state’s Duke Energy Carolinas customers to pay $545 million for coal ash negligence and $347 million for the utility’s 13-year, failed effort to begin construction of twin nuclear reactors – a project now cancelled. Even more shameful is that the commission granted Duke a roughly 10 percent mark-up on the coal ash mistake by corporate execs, just as it did in the Duke Progress case earlier this year.
Letter from NC WARN to EPA’s Inspector General. The whistleblower was right, and the cover-up continues. This scandal goes to the core of the vast expansion of fracked gas by Duke Energy and other utilities.
Eight months after legislators finally adopted a long fought-over compromise to set out the future of solar and other renewables in North Carolina, it appears alternative energy partisans may get less than they bargained for.
NC WARN is pleased for every new amount of solar installed in North Carolina – and hope it helps the solar power industry get more business. But we urge the news media to put Duke Energy’s newly announced rebate program into perspective.
NC WARN also contends that the NC Utilities Commission shielded itself from an appeals court review of the $1 billion Duke Energy project by invoking a never before used law from 1965 to require a $98 million bond that locked the courthouse doors to NC WARN and its nonprofit partner, The Climate Times. No other state allows regulators to use a bond to block a power plant appeal.
Group loses last challenge to Duke Energy’s Asheville natural gas plant – Charlotte Business Journal