Energy & Environment

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

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

Duke Energy has signed a deal with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for power from a solar farm Duke completed recently in Conetoe, N.C., east of Rocky Mount. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC.gov

North Carolina is continuing to fight new EPA rules that limit carbon emissions from power plants. Gov. Pat McCrory's office said Wednesday night the state has joined 27 other states in asking the US Supreme Court to delay the Clean Power Plan, while the states challenge the rules in court.

Piedmont Natural Gas shareholders have approved the company’s sale to Duke Energy. Two-thirds of the company’s shareholders supported the deal at a special meeting Friday morning at its Charlotte headquarters.

Drawing shows design for the W.S. Lee Nuclear Plant in Cherokee County, S.C.
Westinghouse Electric Co./Duke Energy

Duke Energy has been reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, with the closing of old coal-fired plants and the expansion of solar and wind farms. But nuclear power is also an important part of the company’s energy mix, and that could be about to expand.

David Boraks / WFAE

EDEN - Duke Energy has begun removing coal ash from a half dozen old coal-fired power plants across the Carolinas. One of those was the Dan River plant in Eden, North Carolina, on the Virginia border, where a major spill two years ago prompted new rules for coal ash cleanup and storage.  


Ben Bradford / WFAE

Draft recommendations from North Carolina regulators would require Duke Energy to eventually remove coal ash from two-thirds of the company’s ash ponds at power plants across the state. That’s about the same number of sites that Duke has already said it’s targeting for ash removal. 

Mark Boone / Mecklenburg County

A cleanup of Little Sugar Creek has been completed after a diesel spill just before Thanksgiving.  Ducks along the waterway were covered in oil, but they’ve now been nursed back to health as well. Thursday morning, some returned home Freedom Park, just in time for Christmas.

Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As 2015 comes to a close, uncertainty remains about the fate of a federal program in North Carolina aimed at protecting the Red Wolf from extinction. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has repeatedly delayed a decision on whether to continue or abandon the Red Wolf Recovery program that was started in 1987. WFAE’s Mark Rumsey has a recap of this year’s developments:

Catawba Lands Conservancy

Congress last week approved a bill that makes tax incentives permanent for agreements that conserve land and preserve open space. Lands conservancies are calling it the most important legislation in decades for their movement.
 
Since 2006, landowners have been allowed to take tax deductions for donating land or granting conservation easements - promises not develop their land. That’s been an incentive for property owners to work with local lands conservancies, the non-profit groups that manage conservation deals.
 

The Federal Trade Commission has given its OK to Duke Energy's planned acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas, the companies said Tuesday.  

David Boraks / WFAE

Protesters were a fixture outside the recent climate change summit in Paris, calling on world leaders to agree on a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, local activists staged a rally of their own, supporting a new federal plan addressing climate change - and opposing North Carolina’s response. 

Duke Energy plans to add two more solar energy projects to its North Carolina power network next year, as it works to meet state requirements for clean electricity.

The company is asking the North Carolina Utilities Commission for permission to take over two projects already in development -  a 60-megawatt solar farm in Monroe and a 15.4-megawatt facility in Mocksville, in Davie County.

If approved, construction on both would start in March and be done by the end of 2016. 

Duke Energy Solar farm near Elizabeth City NC
Duke Energy

Corning Inc. is boosting its use of renewable energy in North Carolina through a big solar power deal announced Monday with a division of Charlotte-based Duke Energy.

Duke Energy Renewables began construction earlier this year on an 80-megawatt solar farm in Conetoe, east of Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina. When it’s finished later this month, it will be the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi.

David Boraks / WFAE

Water use around the nation and in the Southeast is unsustainable, and it may already be too late to avoid long-term effects, says a NASA water scientist who spoke in Charlotte Tuesday night.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

Workers have mostly contained a 1,000-gallon diesel spill from an uptown office building into Little Sugar Creek last week. The spill affected birds and turtles along the waterway, and county officials say they’re studying whether to issue a fine.

Duke Energy Solar farm near Elizabeth City NC
Duke Energy

Duke Energy and Google announced a deal Tuesday that will supply Google's Lenoir data center with power from a new solar farm under development in Rutherford County. Duke says the 61-megawatt facility being developed by Rutherford Solar LLC will be one of North Carolina's largest.

Under the deal, Duke Energy will buy power from the new solar project, and re-sell it to Google. The partnership is the first through Duke's Green Source Rider program, which supplies renewable energy to non-residential customers. The project's cost won't be passed on to the utility's other customers.

David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy is the nation’s largest power company, supplying electricity to more than 7 million customers in the Southeast and Midwest. But for the past six years, the Charlotte company also has been quietly building a separate startup business that sells wind and solar power to other utilities and businesses.

Duke Energy Changes Power Plan For Western NC

Nov 4, 2015
www.duke-energy.com

In response to a flood of criticism, Duke Energy is changing its plan to power the western Carolinas.  It's still replacing a coal plant in Asheville with natural gas, but the company will not build a transmission line through the mountains.

Duke Energy received more than 9,000 comments on the project, and much of the outcry focused on the transmission line.

Southern Environmental Law Center attorney D.J. Gerken says the large power line would've been a visual scar that cut through conservation lands and fragmented habitats.   

http://1.usa.gov/1PNZd0E / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s been nearly 70 years since a species of fish called the Lake Sturgeon has been found in North Carolina waters. Experts say it’s a fish with a long history.  

“The lake sturgeon is a very ancient breed of fish,” says Stephen Jackson, a hatchery manager with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in eastern North Carolina. “They were around during the dinosaurs and actually predate many of the dinosaurs that we’re very familiar with.” 

NC, Duke Energy Settle Lawsuit Over Coal Ash Pollution

Sep 29, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

In North Carolina, what started with a record state fine over one coal ash facility is now ending with a much smaller price tag that'll cover all of Duke Energy's coal ash facilities. The state environmental department announced Tuesday it's settling the lawsuit, in part because of conflicting guidance from the McCrory and Perdue administrations on fines.

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