Coal plant protestors march on Duke Energy HQ
Several hundred people marched on Duke Energy headquarters this morning to protest the company's new coal-fired power plant under construction in Rutherford County. Forty-four of them were arrested for trespassing. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: COAL was the four-letter word of choice for protesters winding through uptown Charlotte this morning to deliver a message to Duke Energy officials. As they marched, protesters chanted "Dirty Coal has got to go." They want the power company to scrap its plans for a new coal-fired unit at Cliffside and move more quickly toward renewable energy sources like wind, solar and water. Duke Energy spokesperson Tina Worley says the new Cliffside unit uses technology to emit less pollution than traditional coal plants. "We see Cliffside as our bridge to a carbon-free future," said Worley. "Coal is one of the most used fuels that we have right now. And to say that we could just shut down all of our coal plants would mean basically we would be without electricity. That is not something we want to see." "But we do not believe we need either his old dirty plants or this new dirty plant," said Hank Elkins of Chapel Hill. The protest was organized by environmental groups throughout the southeast and Appalachia. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dan Murrey called for more conservation rather than more coal power. "Aggressive conservation programs have worked in other cities and if we do it here, we'll have time to plan for the next generation of rapidly developing alternative technologies," says Murrey. "Maybe we should cut the fat out of our energy consumption before we start expanding capacity." Charlotte native Pat Moore one of about 40 protesters arrested for intentionally trespassing at Duke headquarters. "We would like to say to Jim Rogers, 'You say that the coal-fired plant at Cliffside will do us no harm. We do not believe this," said Moore. "Stop lying to us about these dangers to make more money for Duke Energy!" (cheers fade out) A spokeswoman for Duke Energy says the the company plans to shut down some of its older, higher polluting coal plants when the Cliffside unit opens in 2012.