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State lawmakers want to delay ruling on Cliffside

Several state lawmakers will ask the N.C. Utilities Commission for a three-month delay in ruling on Duke Energy’s application to build two 800-megawatt coal-fired units at the Cliffside Steam Station west of Charlotte.

The utilities commission was expected to rule this month on Duke Energy’s application, but the legislators say they want the Charlotte-based utility to open its books and provide more information on the cost estimates for the project.

The lawmakers, including Rep Paul Luebke, a Democrat from Durham, also want state regulators to give greater weight to energy alternatives — such as renewables and efficiency programs — as they consider Duke Energy’s application amid increasing concerns about global warming.

Luebke and Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican from Davidson County, and Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat from Buncombe County, are holding a press conference at 3 p.m. today. Luebke said that about eight or nine lawmakers have agreed to sign the petition, but more signatures are being sought.

“We don’t think the people of North Carolina have any idea what it would cost them if this plant were approved,” said Luebke. “This is particularly important because this state has never given alternatives to power plants a chance.”

Duke Energy revised its cost estimate from $2 billion to $3 billion in November, then last month acknowledged that financing costs would add at least several hundred thousand dollars to the pricetag. Environmentalists and other critics of the proposed power plant have said the company is lowballing the cost estimate; the critics contend the project would likely cost $4 billion.

Luebke said he would like the public to see Duke Energy’s alternate cost estimates and to show how the company made the calculations. Luebke said the company should disclose its internal projections for future coal costs.

Duke Energy has argued that it needs a ruling quickly to lock in on negotiated prices for equipment and labor before they rise again.

Raleigh News & Observer
Published: Feb 20, 2007
By John Murawski, Staff Writer
—Who be reached at (919) 829-8932 or





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