Energy & Environment

News and information about energy, environment or both from Charlotte and the Carolinas. 

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A lab technician handles water samples in June 2016 at Charlotte Water's laboratory off Billy Graham Parkway.
David Boraks / WFAE

Tests required by state and federal regulators have found no problems with lead or copper in Charlotte's water.  

Charlotte Water tested a total of 164 homes built before 1985, when lead was banned in plumbing. Just six had detectable lead levels, but all were below the federal EPA action level, according to Charlotte Water.

A worker at the U.S. National Whitewater Center releases chlorine into the basin below the rafting channel in July.
Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County commissioners Tuesday night unanimously approved water-quality regulations for the U.S. National Whitewater Center. That follows an Ohio teenager's death this summer from a rare brain infection she contracted after rafting at the center. 

The Neuse River inundated this hog farm in Goldsboro on Wednesday.
Rick Dove / Waterkeeper Alliance

Floodwaters in eastern North Carolina are still rising, but so far haven't swamped any of Duke Energy's active coal ash ponds. But environmentalists worry about older, dry, coal-ash basins that did flood. And they're concerned about how animal waste and dead livestock will affect water quality.

A 50-foot section of a cooling pond dam broke at Duke Energy's plant on the Neuse River in Goldsboro. The company says coal ash ponds are not in danger.
Travis Graves / Lower Neuse Riverkeeper

Forty-eight counties have seen flooding from Hurricane Matthew, and waters are still rising in some areas. State officials are watching dams, checking reports of chemical and fuel spills, and starting to count crop and livestock losses.

Duke Energy owns eight hydroelectric plants like this one in southeastern Brazil.
Duke Energy

Updated 7:24 p.m.

Duke Energy is getting out of the electricity generating business outside the U.S., through a pair of deals  announced Monday worth $2.4 billion total.

Buck Steam Station closed in 2013. Coal ash is stored in basins around the retired plant.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has agreed to remove about 5 million tons of coal ash in three massive dumps from the Buck Steam Station near Salisbury, and recycle it for use in concrete.  The agreement settles a federal lawsuit filed two years ago against Duke by the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of environmental groups.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved Duke Energy's $6.7 billion purchase of Piedmont Natural Gas - the final approval needed for the merger. The companies said Thursday they expect to close the deal on Monday, Oct. 3.

dan river coal ash cleanup
David Boraks / WFAE

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says coal ash ponds and landfills disproportionately affect poor and minority communities across the U.S. But that’s not what North Carolina officials found when they conducted their own “environmental justice reviews” of two sites this year.

The Dan River at Danville, Va. appears gray and coal ash accumulates in eddies downriver from the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, NC after a break in a storm water pipe underneath a coal ash pond at the plant.
John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer

Duke Energy and state environmental regulators have settled a dispute over the size of a state fine over a coal ash spill near Duke's Dan River plant in Eden in February 2014.  

Duke agreed to pay $6 million for violations of the federal Clean Water Act during and after the spill in February 2014.

Buck Steam Station closed in 2013. Coal ash is stored in basins around the retired plant.
Duke Energy


   New tests have found high levels of arsenic and other chemicals in the Yadkin River, near Duke Energy's retired Buck coal plant in Salisbury. Duke doesn't dispute the test results, but disagrees with environmentalists over what the results mean for water quality.

Duke Energy electric pickup
David Boraks / WFAE

Thinking about getting rid of that gas-guzzler in your driveway? A lunch-hour display of electric vehicles at Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday offered options - from small utility vehicles to luxury Teslas.

Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Federal officials plan to reduce the territory of the world's only wild population of red wolves to parts of a single North Carolina county under a revamped management plan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the new footprint for the program will take effect around the end of 2017 under the plan announced on Monday.

Officials also announced that they plan to mix wild wolves with those in a captive breeding program to boost the species' overall population.

  One  of the world's largest investment funds is selling all its Duke Energy bonds and shares. The government of Norway's pension fund has been a major Duke investor. But lately it's been divesting from companies that make money by mining or burning coal.

Companies would be able to contract for solar or wind power with third parties under the new Duke Energy program.
DUKE ENERGY

Duke Energy's commercial energy division has bought six solar projects in Georgia. Duke Energy Renewables acquired the sites from solar developer SolAmerica Energy of Atlanta for an undisclosed sum.

tropical storm hermine
NOAA

  When forecasters began issuing their predictions for the current hurricane season several months ago, they said it likely would be more active than normal.  

In August, four "named" storms formed in the Atlantic basin, and one of them - Gaston - became a major hurricane.  Hermine, reached hurricane status for a time Thursday, before making landfall in Florida.  

The Conservation Fund and private donors have assembled about 2,700 acres of land north and west of Mount Mitchell that will become part of the park. Here's a springtime view from Mount Mitchell.
David Boraks / WFAE

Century-old Mount Mitchell State Park is getting ready to expand. State parks officials are working on a big land purchase, with the help of a national conservation group and private donors, that will double the park’s size.

A worker delivers bottled water to a home in Belmont, near Duke Energy's Allen coal plant. Duke will provide a permament drinking water supply to well owners by 2018.
David Boraks / WFAE

State environmental officials are notifying owners of private wells near Duke Energy coal plants that they'll be getting new permanent water supplies or home water filters by late 2018.

Aerial view of Duke Energy's solar farm in Conetoe, N.C.
Aerophoto America

Duke Energy has reached an agreement with developers of large solar farms that could limit where they build in North Carolina.  But officials say new procedures won't slow the growth of solar here.

The $180 million project would include a 21-mile pipeline from Norwood, in Stanly County, to Union County.
Union County

Union County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. It added 21,000 residents between 2010 and 2015. To keep growing, it needs more water. A public hearing is planned this Thursday, Sept. 1, on the county's plan to tap a new water source - Lake Tillery, on the Yadkin River.

Duke Energy wants answers on how testimony by a state toxicologist was leaked to the Associated Press three weeks ago. Duke believes an environmental group is responsible, and wants a court hearing on the matter.

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