On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Tarheel residents and partner organizations including Appalachian Voices joined together in Raleigh, N.C., to launch the Energy Justice North Carolina: End the Duke Monopoly coalition to promote energy choice and end monopoly control of the state’s utility structure.
Leaders from communities suffering the impacts of Duke’s toxic legacy — including coal ash pollution, hot waste biogas, worsening effects of climate change, and the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline — led a press conference at the First Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh to deliver their message.
“Our communities are being harmed both by Duke Energy’s coal ash negligence and by repeated flooding from our changing climate,” said Bobby Jones of the Down East Coal Ash Coalition. “Duke’s influence is a moral decay that erodes our democracy – and we’re calling for people across North Carolina to tell their public officials to stop taking Duke Energy’s toxic influence money,” he said.
After the press conference, Jones and other coalition members walked to the state capitol to deliver a letter to Governor Roy Cooper and legislative leaders Phil Berger and Tim Moore, calling on them to personally agree to stop taking political influence money from Duke and from Dominion Energy.
The Energy Justice NC coalition’s three primary goals are to end the dirty money influence of Duke and Dominion; influence decision-makers to promote common sense energy policies that shift the state to a more affordable, safer and secure energy system and opens the energy market; and influence appointments to the NC Utilities Commission who will stand up to Duke Energy and prioritize the public interest and the state’s natural beauty.
“We must create a utilities commission that puts the future of our residents above the stock prices of Duke Energy,” said Appalachian Voices’ Amy Adams. “We must demand freedom from the relentless rate hikes that hurt our low income and fixed income neighbors … and freedom from decisions based on profits.”
Currently, North Carolina residents are burdened by Duke’s blocking of competition from cheaper renewable energy companies, constant electric bill increases, and the utility’s $13 billion scheme for unnecessary transmission “improvements” – all of which cause power bills to soar year after year. Charlotte-based Duke Energy is the largest U.S. power provider, and generates 90 percent of the electricity used in North Carolina.
Polls currently show widespread voter support for a change to the state’s energy structure. For many years, Duke Energy has been among the state’s largest political contributors, and also has powerful influence over the N.C. Utilities Commission.
“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. It’s time to break Duke’s monopoly and its dirty addiction to fracked gas, starting from the ground up.”
The coalition will also be pursuing legislation to open the state to electricity competition — sign up for their mailing list to keep up-to-date.
Individuals and businesses are encouraged to sign a petition asking Gov. Cooper and legislators to begin an open process for revamping the state’s electricity system – thus forcing Duke Energy to stop thwarting growth of solar, wind and energy storage companies.
To learn more about the coalition, visit energyjusticenc.org
The following organizations have partnered together to bring Energy Justice to North Carolina: 350 Triangle, Alliance for Climate Education, Alliance for Energy Democracy, Appalachian Voices, Concerned Citizens of Maxton, Center for Biological Diversity, Down East Coal Ash Coalition, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, NC Climate Justice Collective, NC Environmental Justice Network, NC WARN, Protecting Progress in Durham, Rachel Carson Council, RedTailed Hawk Collective