This is a repost from Greenpeace’s Quit Coal blog, written by their NC Organizer, Monica Embrey..
Amidst a whirlwind of controversy this past month, the new Duke Energy has an opportunity to lead the country and act in the best interest of its ratepayers, shareholders and the planet.
Today, Greenpeace released our report (PDF) that details how Duke can be a true renewable energy leader and end their dirty business practices. By embracing renewable energy and energy efficiency, Duke and Progress can save North and South Carolina customers over $100 billion dollars through 2032.
Our plan — Charting the Correction Course: A Clean Energy Pathway for Duke Energy—highlights specific solutions to benefit both the company and its customers, and explains how for the Carolinas cleaner is cheaper.
Duke currently runs a dirty business. As the nation’s largest utility, Duke operates 28 coal-fired power plants across the United States, half of which are located in the Carolinas. The city of Charlotte is surrounded by 4 of Duke’s dirty coal plants and is ranked the 5th worst city to live in for people who have asthma. Residents in communities like Mt Holly, NC near the 83 year old Riverbend Coal Plant face much higher rates of learning disabilities in children and cancer in adults because of the pollution from toxic coal ash ponds to the local water supply. The carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from Duke’s aging coal fleet are higher than national and regional averages. Despite massive PR campaigns, Duke’s plants operate at the expense of neighboring communities.
The cost of Duke’s dirty coal plants impact not only the health and local environment, but also the pocketbooks of hard working customers. If Duke continues on its current plan, it’s estimated that within the next ten years, electricity rates in the Carolinas would quadruple and increase nearly 20-fold by 2032 in order to pay for the company’s proposed dirty energy construction. For the next twenty years, the Carolinas would source the majority of their power from 70-plus year old coal plants and deteriorating nuclear plants, while doubling the company’s exposure to volatile natural gas prices. Higher rates in these tough economic times are already causing many families to choose between paying for medical bills and keeping the lights on. In North Carolina, we are already seeing multiple rate hikes to pay for dirty energy sources.
But Duke Energy doesn’t need to continue to operate a dirty business. Instead, it can invest in real renewable energy solutions that are a win-win for people, the planet and the company. It’s time that Duke’s green rhetoric matches its portfolio reality. We’ve laid out the pathway. What step will Duke Energy and its CEO Jim Rogers take?