Ratepayers in the Carolinas could save nearly $10 billion if Duke Energy increased solar power sixfold, shuttered coal plants ahead of schedule, and abandoned goals for a new nuclear plant, a new report shows.
Under current state law, Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointments may be subject to Senate confirmation hearings. On Jan. 17, however, Michael Regan was sworn in as North Carolina’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality at a time when the coal ash issue – something his department is largely responsible for – continues to roil the citizenry and generate billion-dollar bills for industry and possibly Duke Energy ratepayers. Since Regan took office, the department has withdrawn from a multi-state lawsuit against his former employer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan. And while DEQ’s Environmental Management Commission has taken a step back from its pending coal ash rule, the Energy Policy Council – revitalized under Gov. Pat McCrory, though previously dormant – has postponed its next meeting twice.
While North Carolina activists fight the Atlantic Coast Pipeline with protest songs and camera-grabbing marches, they’re also waging a quieter legal battle via the government agencies who must approve the project.
When the EPA strengthened regulations on coal ash disposal in 2015, few legislators foresaw that power companies might choose to send their wet ash across state lines into communities that don’t want the hazardous waste.
By striking the phrase “originating in North Carolina” from the state’s eminent domain law, a bill approved by the North Carolina House could remove a key legal obstacle for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Duke Energy’s combination of offers to North Carolina homeowners affected by coal ash pollution is creating confusion, especially for people concerned about giving up their legal rights in the process.
When federal tax credits for geothermal systems were eliminated, North Carolina also eliminated a state credit while South Carolina went the opposite direction.
One of the lawmakers who recently called on the Trump administration to shut down a North Carolina wind farm appears to have softened his stance after touring the facility.
While nuclear power operators are struggling with political challenges or to remain competitive in deregulated markets in other parts of the county, many of the monopoly utilities in the Southeast are adding capacity often with willing support from lawmakers and regulators.
Conservatives for Clean Energy, a Raleigh based non-profit, recently expanded into Virginia where it will continue its efforts to “educate the public on the benefits of clean and renewable energy sources.”