Energy & Environment

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

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bobistraveling / Flickr/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Charlotte has updated its rules for how developers can plant trees in the city’s most urban areas.

After hundreds of years of mainly focusing on the aftermath of hurricanes, this is the first hurricane season that North Carolina has a "chief resilience officer," tasked to think ahead in new ways to bolster the state against the effects of climate change.

Resilience officers, or officials who have such duties as part of their job, are fast becoming a typical part of local government in coastal areas. But just a handful of state governments have them.

The tree ordinance changes would affect tree placement in most of uptown Charlotte
WFAE

Charlotte City Council members will decide Monday night whether to change rules for how developers can place trees in the city’s most urban areas. City planners say the proposed change is small, but some citizens are concerned that it doesn’t do enough to meet Charlotte’s tree canopy goals.

Chimney Swift recovering at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

More than 300 migrating chimney swift birds hit the windows of the NASCAR Hall of Fame around 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Many of them have died, and it's unclear what caused them to strike the building.

A Wood Thrush bird
Audubon Society

A new report says two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction or loss of habitat due to rising global temperatures. The report from the Audubon Society outlines the potential impact if temperatures rise by three different scenarios: 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees Celsius. 

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

The EPA wants to relax rules that govern how companies like Duke Energy can dispose of coal ash, but the proposal has some environmental groups in North Carolina concerned about how the changes might affect community health and citizens' ability to take legal action in the future.

Duke Energy hopes to replace its Asheville coal-fired power plant with this gas plant later this year.
Duke Energy

A Duke University climate scientist and 27 former federal environmental officials are calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to order a halt on building new gas pipelines and power plants in North Carolina. 

MICHAEL FALERO / WFAE

Updated 3:15 p.m. Oct. 7

About 25 solar-curious people pedaled around the Plaza Midwood neighborhood Oct. 5 in the Charlotte Solar Homes Cycling Tour.

Governor Cooper speaks at the Climate Change Interagency Council in September.
N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

State officials are proposing electric vehicle tax credits and an expanded network of charging stations on state roads as part of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions — but they’re still not sure how much it will cost or how to fund their plans. The proposals are part of the North Carolina Climate Change Interagency Council, which met last Friday.

Duke Energy has seven coal-fired power plants in the Carolinas, including the Allen Steam Station in Belmont.
DAVID BORAKS / WFAE

The Duke Energy division that provides electricity for Charlotte and much of western North Carolina has asked state regulators to approve an average 6% rate increase.

Catawba Nuclear Station, on Lake Wylie.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy says it wants to renew the licenses of its North and South Carolina nuclear plants for another 20 years. Licenses for the 11 reactors at six sites run out in the 2030s, and the utility says it will ask the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for extensions. 

A car was still partially submerged June 10 after flooding the night before on Riverside Drive in northwest Charlotte.
DAVID BORAKS / WFAE

Federal regulators say Duke Energy did not violate its license when it released water from Catawba River dams in June that caused flooding downstream. But in a letter this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked Duke to review its high-water management and notification procedures and recommend improvements. 

CLINT PATTERSON / UNSPLASH

North Carolina regulators have proposed new rules that would make clear that public utilities cannot charge customers for political and charitable contributions or lobbying expenses. The rules would apply to electric and gas utilities and large water and sewer systems. 

Duke Energy has seven coal-fired power plants in the Carolinas, including the Allen Steam Station in Belmont.
DAVID BORAKS / WFAE

North Carolina regulators this week approved Duke Energy's latest 15-year energy plan as "adequate." But they also ordered the company next year to show why it still makes economic sense to keep old coal plants open and how it will help meet state goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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

Duke Energy is rolling out a new program that clears the way for large customers to buy solar or wind energy from independent power producers.

Gaston Shoals Hydro Station is among five plants Duke Energy has sold to Northbrook Energy.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has completed the sale of five small hydroelectric plants in the western Carolinas that it says have become too expensive to maintain and operate. It's taking a loss on the sale, which it eventually hopes to recover from customers. 

Public comments are due Sept. 9 on the draft plan.
N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

State environmental officials have released the draft of a proposed North Carolina Clean Energy Plan, a requirement of Governor Roy Cooper's executive order on climate change last year. 

Hurricane Florence
David Boraks / WFAE

It's hurricane season and government forecasters last week said they're now expecting above-normal activity, with five to nine Atlantic hurricanes, including two to four major storms with winds over 110 miles an hour. A conference at Duke University Wednesday looked at North Carolina's ongoing recovery from past hurricanes and what needs to happen to make the state more resilient in the face of stronger and slower moving storms. 

An electric vehicle at a charging station.
David Boraks / WFAE

One day in the not-too-distant future, drivers of electric cars could pick charging stations the same way owners of gas guzzlers choose pumps now - by price. New rules being adopted around the country, including North Carolina, are clearing the way.

Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said the company needs a mix of energy sources - from coal and oil to nuclear and renewables.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy's second-quarter profit rose 64% from a year ago, as higher rates and other fees boosted revenues and hot weather drove energy use.

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