Energy & Environment

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

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REC Solar

Duke Energy has expanded its investment in solar energy, and will enter a new facet of the industry: solar panels on the roofs of businesses.


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The Obama administration has released its latest plan for oil and gas drilling off-shore the United States. It excludes restricts Alaska, but opens up parts of the Atlantic Ocean, including off the coast of North Carolina.


While North Carolina is ramping up to close coal ash ponds around the state, removal is already underway in South Carolina, and—at one site—ahead of schedule.

South Carolina electric utility Santee Cooper entered a settlement with environmental groups in 2013, to get its coal ash—which can contain arsenic and lead—out of storage ponds near public waters.

Lower-income customers of Duke Energy in North Carolina can now apply for energy-saving upgrades to their homes. A $20 million program funded by Duke Energy opened this week, the result of a deal Duke agreed to when it last raised rates.


Strata Solar

North Carolina energy regulators quietly released one of their most significant, long-awaited decisions of 2014, just as the year was ending. The state Utilities Commission had spent nearly the entire year re-evaluating the rules for solar energy. On Wednesday, the commission decided to leave substantially intact the rules which have underlied a solar energy boom in North Carolina.

Power Companies Reach Rooftop Solar Agreement In SC

Dec 12, 2014
Rebates would help pay for solar panels on a rooftop
Elliot Brown / Flickr

Electric utilities and solar energy developers across the U.S. have clashed over how much the utilities should have to pay for the energy supplied to them by homeowners with solar panels. In South Carolina, the sides reached an agreement Friday and both are claiming a win.


Duke Energy

Slow energy demand and carbon emission cuts are putting major pressure on the power industry, a top Duke Energy executive said today. Chief Financial Officer Steve Young spoke at a Wells Fargo energy conference about challenges facing coal, solar, wind, and nuclear energy.


Duke Energy Mulling Fracking Investment

Dec 4, 2014
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is exploring the option of entering the fracking business. While the company says it has not made any decisions, it would mark a departure from Duke’s usual operations.

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

North Carolina has taken measures since the 1970s to control the top water contaminant in the state, the dirt that pours into rivers and lakes from human activity. But a review of state records reveals a sharp drop-off in enforcement over the past five years and a series of warnings to lawmakers that have gone unheeded.


EPA Could Force Rethink Of NC Coal Ash Work

Nov 17, 2014
Appalachian Voices

North Carolina lawmakers, regulators, and media have spent nine months considering what to do about coal ash, but an upcoming federal rule could nullify much of the planned clean-up.


Fracking Clears Penultimate Hurdle In North Carolina

Nov 14, 2014
Jeff Foster / Flickr

North Carolina is now one step away from legalizing fracking. A state commission has spent the past two years writing a broad set of rules to cover how fracking will work in the state. The commission passed those rules Friday evening. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined Duncan McFadyen to discuss.


Rules For Fracking In NC Up For Vote

Nov 13, 2014
Fracking
Wikimedia Commons

The controversial oil and gas extraction process known as fracking could take its second-to-last step toward legalization in North Carolina on Friday. A state body meets at 9 a.m. to finalize the rules that will govern fracking.


Duke Plans To Use Coal Ash To Fill Old Mines

Nov 13, 2014
Mark Rumsey / WFAE

Duke Energy has proposed moving millions of tons of coal ash from waste ponds and using it to fill in old mines. So far, the plan has drawn support from frequent adversaries of the utility.

Duke says it has the perfect place to put about three million tons of ash: in old clay mines in Moncure and Sanford, a few dozen miles southwest of Raleigh. Right now, they are just open pits says Duke Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Jabon.

City of Charlotte

Most construction in Charlotte for the next three years will not have to include environmental protections against one of the state’s biggest sources of water pollution—stormwater.


Duke Energy Redoing First Step In Coal Ash Clean-Up

Nov 7, 2014
Ben Bradford / WFAE

North Carolina environmental regulators have ordered Duke Energy to redo the first step in the process of cleaning up its coal ash ponds around the state. The company has to measure contamination from the ponds, and state regulators say their plans to do so are inadequate.

Duncan McFadyen

A new company says it will turn the former Philip Morris plant in Concord into a high tech manufacturing facility. Executives from Alevo made the announcement Tuesday. They will use the space to build large-scale battery arrays that, they say, will “redefine energy.”

Duke Energy

Opposition is already shaping up to the Environmental Protection Agency rule that, if enacted, would be the first to limit how much carbon the nation’s existing power plants can emit into the air. At the Making Energy Work conference in Uptown Charlotte on Thursday, North Carolina utilities gave an early glimpse of the grounds on which they oppose the rule.

“We’re not sure that it can be implemented as written,” Duke Energy senior vice president Dwight Jacobs said during a panel discussion at the event.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Electric cars were largely novelties until Tesla introduced its Roadster in 2008. Now, a few small start-ups are trying to repeat Tesla’s success in another sector of the electric vehicle industry. They’re building trucks, hoping to sell them en masse to government and business fleets.


Magnum Energy

The nation’s largest wind farm in Wyoming would connect to  one of the largest energy storage facilities in Utah to power Los Angeles, in a proposal announced Tuesday by four companies, including Duke Energy. The project’s scale is more akin to a nuclear plant.


Why We Disbelieve Science, Consider Conspiracies

Sep 22, 2014
Gabriel Rocha / Flickr

Fluoridated water reduces cavities, as scientific studies have repeatedly shown. Yet for decades, public health and government officials have had to defend fluoride in public drinking water, against at-times outlandish conspiracy theories. It’s a battle currently playing out in Charlotte. WFAE’s Ben Bradford examines why we have trouble believing the science.


Strata Solar

The nation’s largest power company will also be one of the largest solar providers. Duke Energy wrapped up six months of shopping for solar projects today, and announced it will increase its North Carolina capacity by more than a third. Despite the increase, solar remains a tiny fraction of overall generation.


Missing Water A Mystery For County Utility

Sep 15, 2014
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities

County water officials have a bit of a mystery on their hands: the case of the missing 20 million gallons of water. Sunday afternoon workers noticed that a pump, which propels that amount of water per day into a water tank, is still operating. But it is not ending up in the water tank.


Duke Projects Next 15 Years Of Power

Sep 5, 2014
Duke Energy/Flickr

Every year, Duke Energy submits a plan to state regulators, showing how it will continue to supply power to the Carolinas over the next 15 years. It projects how the energy mix will change, what new power plants the company intends to build—how much will come from solar, wind, or coal. The most recent plan is out, and WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined All Things Considered Host Mark Rumsey for a quick survey of how Duke sees the energy landscape in 2029.


Environmental Groups File More Coal Ash Lawsuits

Sep 3, 2014
Duke Energy

Environmental groups launched new lawsuits today against Duke Energy for pollution from the company’s coal ash ponds in North Carolina, adding more strands to a tangled web of litigation between Duke, environmental groups and state regulators.


The Science Behind Lake Norman's Fish Kills

Aug 8, 2012

Fish kills have become an annual problem at Lake Norman. Since 2004, wildlife officials have reported frequent large kills of striped bass, or stripers, a popular species with fishermen. So far this year, they've counted over 800. To find out more about the biology behind these kills, WFAE's Duncan McFadyen called Lawrence Dorsey. He's the District 6 Fisheries Biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 

Greg Collard / WFAE

About three dozen people gathered outside the Duke Energy shareholder meeting to protest various practices of the company. Here Shaun Ridgway with Occupy Raleigh/Greenpeace speaks to those assembled. 

Charlotte police geared up for large protests at the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting uptown this morning. In the end, police far outnumbered the 35 or so activists who gathered outside the meeting and reported no incidents, despite the city invoking a special enforcement ordinance in anticipation of unruly crowds.

AG Warns Of 'Fracking' Pitfalls For Landowners

May 2, 2012

North Carolina lawmakers are considering allowing a drilling method called "fracking" to happen here. The state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a report this week fracking could be done safely here, with the right regulations in place. 

UNC Charlotte scientist helps oysters fight Dermo disease

Mar 20, 2009

Millions of oysters along the Eastern seaboard are dying from a parasitic disease called Dermo. It's the same problem that affected oysters off the Mexican coast in the 1940s. But those oysters adapted. Nature figured out a way to beat the disease. That's not the case for oysters off the Carolina coast. In this report, WFAE's Jen Nathan tells us how a UNC Charlotte researcher is using biotechnology in hopes of helping oysters fight back.

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