Energy & Environment

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

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Most Duke Plants Ready For EPA Mercury Rule Anyway

Jun 30, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

A federal rule to lower mercury, arsenic, lead, and other potentially toxic heavy metals from power plants lies in limbo after a Supreme Court decision Monday. But in the Carolinas, the practical effect will be minimal.


Duke Proposes Moving More Coal Ash

Jun 24, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

At the Riverbend coal plant near Charlotte, a front end loader shovels a load of coal ash and drops it into the bed of a truck, which will haul the ash to a landfill in Georgia. Riverbend is one of four coal plants where Duke and state lawmakers committed to removing all the ash from ponds where it’s stored. Heavy metals, like arsenic, can seep from the ash into groundwater.


The Industry That Wants More Coal Ash

Jun 22, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Since a spill polluted the Dan River early last year, coal ash has become an environmental head ache for Duke Energy. But while Duke, state regulators, and environmental groups struggle with how to safely store or bury more than 100 million tons of the waste, other industries don’t look at coal ash as waste—it’s a commodity, and they want more.


Duke To Pay Chatham County For Coal Ash Storage

Jun 16, 2015
Charah

Duke Energy and Chatham County have resolved a dispute over the transfer of coal ash.

Despite Drilling, Fracking Far From Imminent In NC

Jun 12, 2015
usgs.gov

News that state environment officials were drilling near the Dan River last week to look for oil and gas caused a stir. One headline read: “North Carolina Wants To Frack In Small Town Already Struggling With Coal Ash.”


Big Tech Joins Fight Against NC Solar Changes

May 29, 2015
Thomas Kohler / Flickr

The biggest companies in tech want top North Carolina lawmakers to back away from changing the state’s renewable energy laws. They join the solar energy industry and environmental advocates in their opposition to legislation that’s nearly reached the governor’s desk.


Gas-Guzzling NASCAR Takes Green Initiatives To Heart

May 22, 2015
Michael Tomsic

When you think "environmentally friendly," NASCAR is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

After all, burning fuel is a fundamental part of stock car racing. But NASCAR, like other pro sports, is trying to decrease its carbon footprint. Some of those initiatives will be on display at the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Duke Pleads Guilty To Coal Ash Misconduct

May 14, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for its handling of coal ash, which led to last year’s Dan River spill and violated the Clean Water Act around the state.


After a battery of tests on private drinking water wells near coal ash ponds around North Carolina, health officials have cautioned many residents against drinking from those wells. But officials are hesitant to draw a link between contaminants in the wells and the nearby coal ash ponds.


Duke Feels The Effect Of Weather In Earnings

May 1, 2015
Google

Cold weather helped and drought hurt Duke Energy’s earnings this quarter. The company announced its results today, which included the effects of its settlement with federal prosecutors and a changing customer base.


Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy has taken about a fifth of the power it can generate off-line in North Carolina, as part of what the energy industry calls “outage season.”


Drinking Wells Show Coal Ash Contaminants

Apr 21, 2015

Eighty-seven homes near Duke Energy coal ash ponds around North Carolina have well-water contaminated with heavy metals, according to state environmental regulators. 

naturalresources.house.gov

The debate over what offshore drilling would mean for North Carolina played out before a U.S. House subcommittee Wednesday. In the red corner, North Carolina's governor. In the blue corner, a commissioner from a small beach town.


Rebates would help pay for solar panels on a rooftop
Elliot Brown / Flickr

North Carolina put more solar power online last year than any state other than California. But companies or homeowners wanting to put solar panels on their roofs face major restrictions. State lawmakers have introduced a bill to change that. It’s drawing opposition from Duke Energy, but also dividing solar advocates.


NC Science Panel Revisits Sea Level Rise

Apr 1, 2015
Megha Punjani / Flickr

A state science panel predicts sea level could rise off the coast by an average of seven inches over the next 30 years. The report is the first from the science panel, since state lawmakers blocked an earlier version that predicted extreme effects.


Crowd-Sourced Weather Program Provides 'Hyper-Local' Data

Mar 30, 2015
Henry Reges/ CoCoRaHS

There’s a network in the U.S. of thousands of volunteers who put a rain gauge in their yards and report the readings online every day---rain or shine.

This group’s mission is to provide hyper-local weather data to meteorologists, farmers, emergency managers and other government agencies. It’s called CoCoRaHS (pronounced ko-ko-RAZ). The name may sound more appropriate for a chocolatey breakfast cereal, but it stands for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. 

WFAE's Duncan McFadyen spoke to the state director of CoCoRaHS, David Glenn. He's a meteriologist for the National Weather Service in Newport, in the eastern part of North Carolina.


Lucy Perkins / WFAE

A new energy project in Charlotte will use food scraps to power 3,000 homes in the Charlotte area. A Nevada company called Bluesphere will convert organic waste into electricity. 

Think banana peels. That’s basically what organic waste is, along with other food we throw out. The bio-gas plant will take the leftovers we don’t use, and accelerate the fermentation process.

"What happens normally in six months we concentrate in 30 days," says Alex Massone, the CEO of Austep -- an Italian company behind the technology.

Alexia Gyorody / WFAE

The commission overseeing North Carolina’s clean-up of coal ash around the state has canceled its upcoming meeting, because of a court decision that has called the group’s legitimacy into question.


State Charges Duke Energy Record Fine Over Coal Ash

Mar 11, 2015
Duke Energy

North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued the largest fine in its history, against Duke Energy. The agency fined Duke $25 million for pollution from coal ash at its Sutton Lake coal plant, near Wilmington.


Charlotte Storm Water Problems Outpace Fixes, Budget

Feb 11, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Just south of Morehead Street in Dilworth, construction crews work in an enormous hole, 30-feet wide and 30-feet deep. Wood slats and metal bands support the walls, like the inside of the world’s largest wine barrel. A pump sucks a pool of storm water out of the bottom. Cranes and dump trucks surround the hole, while a small machine tunnels at the bottom, moving forward about four feet per day.

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