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Duke Energy, Civil Rights Museum In Dispute Over Electric Bill

Former F. W. Woolworth Co. store in Greensboro, North Carolina, the site of a now-famous "sit-in" protest by black college students in 1960.
By dbking from Washington, DC (Greensboro, NC "Sit In" 1960) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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Former F. W. Woolworth Co. store in Greensboro, North Carolina, the site of a now-famous "sit-in" protest by black college students in 1960.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro may have its power cut off if it can’t resolve an $18,000 bill that Duke Energy says it owes. The museum is at the site of the historic 1960 sit-in at a segregated F.W. Woolworth lunch counter.

The museum and Duke Energy agree that there's a history of the civil rights museum having difficulty paying its bills. "We don't want to do anything that would disrupt an important customer of any sort," says Duke spokesman Mike Hughes.
 
Duke Energy has provided various forms of support to the museum, according to Hughes. "Unfortunately, the track record would also show that the account has been in arrears on numerous occasions," the spokesman adds.  
 
Duke briefly cut off power to the museum on February 16. But museum officials are fighting back. They've filed a complaint against Duke Energy with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

The museum’s CEO, John Swaine, says its relationship with Duke took a turn for the worse around the time of the February cut off. "They departed from their past history of contacting me and working with me to make sure things were moving forward," says Swaine.

Swaine wants more consideration for the civil rights museum from Duke Energy. "I think the institution as a major tourist attraction in our state deserves a little extra attention," Swain says.   He talked about the power bill dispute in an interview with WFAE's Mark Rumsey.