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NC Utilities Commission Decision Allows Duke Energy to Build 1 of 2 Coal-Fired Boilers at Cliffside

Statement by Appalachian Voices Executive Director Mary Anne Hitt

In electing to permit a new 800-megawatt coal-burning power plant at Duke Energy’s Cliffside facility, the NC Utilities Commission has missed an opportunity to take the state in the right direction. While rightly denying Duke’s massive initial 1,600-megawatt proposal, the NCUC’s decision amounts to a half step in the wrong direction.

While the impact of one 800-megawatt plant will be half that of the proposed 1,600-megawatt facility, there are still tremendous risks associated with this coal-fired power plant, including significant levels of global warming pollution and increased demand for coal from the region where mountaintop removal coal mining is devastating communities and the environment. Ratepayers also face significant financial risks from sky-rocketing plant construction costs and rising coal prices.

In a letter addressed to the Utilities Commission, 18 North Carolina legislators called for more transparency in Duke’s models and assumptions about future energy demands and coal prices. According to the legislators,

“The lack of transparency in the proposal by Duke Energy to build two conventional, 800-megawatt coal-fired units at its existing Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford and Cleveland counties is a source of great concern to the undersigned…it is our belief that information that was not made publicly available regarding the Cliffside project could pose substantial financial risks to North Carolina’s ratepayers.”

In their deliberations, we believe the Utilities Commission did not adequately consider opportunities to meet future energy needs through clean alternatives, especially conservation and efficiency measures and renewable energy. Appalachian Voices is committed to continuing to work towards a clean energy future and a fair, transparent permitting process for the hundreds of citizens and small business members represented by Appalachian Voices.

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