Energy & Environment

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

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Duke Energy's Marshall Plant on Lake Norman has about 32 million tons of coal ash stored on site.
David Boraks / WFAE

Lawmakers are debating a bill that would give Duke Energy more time and flexibility in cleaning up coal ash at its North Carolina plants. A Duke official said Thursday that Duke needs the change because it can't hit state deadlines for removing the ash at most of its plants.

David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 6:09 p.m.
House lawmakers on Wednesday voted 86-25 to approve a bill that would change the rules for Duke Energy’s cleanups of coal ash across the state. It’s a controversial bill that has drawn the opposition of Gov. Pat McCrory and state regulators.  

Flickr / Dan Belanescu / bit.ly/1syVX00

Duke Energy has signed another deal to buy natural gas recycled from hog waste in eastern North Carolina. The utility is working with Optima KV, which will install waste processing equipment at farms in Duplin County, where Smithfield Farms produces pork.  

Coal ash belmont
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Neighbors of Duke Energy's coal ash ponds in Gaston and Rowan counties say they like Duke's proposal this week to provide safe, permanent water supplies. But they also worry it could mean they’ll have to continue to live with coal ash.

Two environmental groups have asked the state Court of Appeals to remove a major financial hurdle in their fight to halt Duke Energy's plans for a new gas-fired power plant in Asheville.

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

  Duke Energy will have to remove coal ash stored near all 14 of its North Carolina power plants under final risk classifications out Wednesday from state regulators. But that may not be the last word.

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

Duke Energy says state regulators have approved construction of two new solar farms - a 60-megawatt project in Union County, and a 15.4-megawatt facility in Davie County.  Duke says both will be generating electricity by year's end.

Map shows the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's proposed route through eastern North Carolina. It will orginate in West Virginia and run through Virginia as well.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Utilities planning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have altered the route to avoid environmentally sensitive areas. But they say there's no change in the projected cost or 2018 completion date. 

David Boraks / WFAE

In late March, fans of Tesla's luxury electric cars swarmed its website and stores to reserve the new Model 3. It’s a lower-priced design aimed at the mass market.  But delivering those cars next year could be a problem: Traditional auto dealers are fighting its plan for new showrooms, including one in Charlotte.

NC WARN owns the solar panels it installed on Faith Community Church in Greensboro, and had been selling electricity to the church. But it has stopped the sales, after an order by regulators.
NC WARN

A Durham nonprofit says it has "temporarily suspended" sales of solar power on a church rooftop in Greensboro, complying with an order from state utility regulators last month.  

David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy shareholders elected a smaller board and approved one of two shareholder proposals at their annual meeting Thursday morning.

Duke Energy

  Duke Energy's profits fell in the first quarter compared with a year ago because of weather issues and income lost from operations it sold. But executives say the company is on track to meet its profit target for the full year. 

Warmer weather this winter reduced demand for energy - and Duke's revenues. And cleanups after winter storms pushed up costs. At the same time, Duke’s revenues declined because of the sale of its Midwest power generation division a year ago.

Still, chief financial officer Steve Young called it a "solid quarter,"

gaston solar project
Duke Energy Renewables

Duke Energy's commercial power business has bought six solar projects in eastern North Carolina. 

Duke Energy Renewables says all six sites were developed by Pennsylvania-based Community Energy. 

Duke Energy Solar farm near Elizabeth City NC
Duke Energy

Duke Energy says it’s on track to beat its goal for renewable energy use over the next few years, so it’s raising the bar. The pledge came in the company’s annual corporate sustainability report out Thursday.

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

A Hairy Woodpecker tap-tap-taps on a pine tree just below the summit of Mount Mitchell. It’s a sunny spring day. It’s 46 degrees - about 10 degrees cooler than nearby Burnsville.

With the park now open after winter, superintendent Bryan Wilder says visitors are flocking here.  

CC0 Public Domain

Darwin called them “disgusting.”  The biblical books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy call them “unclean.”   Vultures have a generally bad reputation, but experts point out that the carnivorous birds play vital ecological roles.  

In recent decades, vulture populations around the world have been plummeting, primarily due to human behaviors. WFAE's Mark Rumsey got some insights on vultures from Dr. Corinne Kendall, Associate Curator of Conservation and Research at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. Dr. Kendall is involved in international efforts to protect endangered vultures. 

NC WARN owns the solar panels it installed on Faith Community Church in Greensboro, and had been selling electricity to the church. But it has stopped the sales, after an order by regulators.
NC WARN

State utility regulators ruled last week that a Durham nonprofit cannot install solar panels on a church, then charge for the electricity. It wasn’t a surprise - state law says only regulated utilities can do that. WFAE's Mark Rumsey talked to environmental reporter David Boraks about the case. 

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

  North Carolina regulators next month will assign risk ratings to Duke Energy’s coal ash storage sites around the state. The ratings determine how and when the ash will be cleaned up. But what exactly does “cleanup” mean? There’s a big debate.

Duke Energy has agreed to refund $1.3 million to other utilities for overcharges uncovered in a federal audit following its 2012 merger with Progress Energy.

Duke imploded its retired Sutton coal-fired plant in 2016.
Duke Energy

 

  With a series of small blasts, workers imploded Boiler No. 1 at Duke Energy’s Sutton plant in Wilmington on Sunday. In a video on Duke Energy’s website, the steel hulk creaks, then crashes to the ground, throwing up a cloud of dust and debris.

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