Energy & Environment

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



Edgar Miller
Yadkin Riverkeepr

Yadkin Riverkeeper, an environmental group that keeps watch on the Yadkin River, has announced new leadership.

Edgar Miller is the organization's new executive director and Brian Fannon has been named the Yadkin Riverkeeper after serving as the interim riverkeeper since April.


The lagoons were supposed to be gone by now.

Nearly 20 years ago, North Carolina faced a reckoning. Hurricane Floyd inundated the state, flooding the open pits where farmers store hog waste. 

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

North Carolina's top environmental official hopes one of the country's largest chemical companies will change how it operates now that it has been hit with the largest penalty a polluter has had to pay the state.

Sam Perkins is stepping down after five years as the Catawba Riverkeeper.
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Updated 2:25 p.m.
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has announced a change of leadership.

Sam Perkins has stepped down after five years as the Catawba Riverkeeper, monitoring the health and environmental concerns about the waterway.

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

North Carolina regulators say Duke Energy does not have to dig up and move coal ash at seven current and former coal-fired power plants. The state Department of Environmental Quality said Duke has met requirements in the state's coal ash cleanup law to have the sites declared "low risk." 

Duke Energy headquarters in Charlotte
David Boraks / WFAE

Two environmental groups are asking state regulators to limit lobbying and other expenses by electric utilities, which the groups call "influence money."

N.C. Environmental Secretary Michael Regan spoke at Monday's signing of a state executive order to fight climate change.

President Trump may have pulled the United States out of the 2017 Paris climate agreement, but its goals are alive in North Carolina. State and local governments are adopting their own measures to fight climate change.

Duke Energy's headquarters in Charlotte.
Zuri Berry / WFAE

Duke Energy's profits rose 13.4 percent in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, to $1.08 billion. The Charlotte-based company said increased electric sales and the lower federal income tax rate helped offset costs to restore power after hurricanes Florence and Michael.

The view inside a shipping container-sized energy storage battery at a Duke Energy test site in Charlotte.
David Boraks / WFAE

For years, utilities have been testing large-scale batteries to store electricity, especially from wind and solar power. Now Duke Energy is ready to bet on the technology, with plans to spend a half-billion dollars on batteries over the next 15 years in the Carolinas.

Gov. Roy Cooper spoke in Cary just before signing an executive order to fight climate change.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order to fight climate change that sets new goals for reducing the use of fossil fuels and promoting environmentally friendly policies in state government Monday.

Solar panels on the roof of Charlotte-based National Gypsum are owned by Duke Energy. The utility leases them to the company under a separate pilot program begun a decade ago.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is starting a new business to lease solar power facilities to small and medium-sized companies in the Carolinas. Duke Energy Clean Energy Resources will install, own and operate solar panels on site for business customers under 20-year leases.

The hog waste is processed into pipeline-quality gas in this converter in Kenansville, Duplin County. It's run by a company called Optima KV.
Duke Energy

Smithfield Foods says it will cover most of its open hog waste lagoons over the next 10 years in North Carolina and other states to capture methane to be burned for energy.

Beehives on the roof of Heirloom Restaurant provide the eatery's "Rooftop Honey."
David Boraks / WFAE

Heirloom Restaurant in northwest Charlotte has beehives on the roof, grows its own herbs and uses energy-efficient lighting. Chef Clark Barlowe, who grew up on a North Carolina farm, buys meat and produce from local farms and composts all of his food waste.

The last section of Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station in Salisbury was imploded Friday.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy on Friday completed the demolition of the remaining section of the Buck Steam Station, on the Yadkin River near Salisbury. The demolition began Aug. 2 with the implosion of the plant’s oldest section.

Duke Energy's headquarters in Charlotte.
Zuri Berry / WFAE

Residents in Mecklenburg and several western North Carolina counties are being offered up to $10,000 to replace inefficient and polluting wood stoves. Duke Energy is funding the campaign as part of a legal settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Air Act violations. 

A city worker cuts down a tree on Culloden More Court off South Tryon Street.
David Boraks / WFAE

Charlotte neighborhoods have been a cacophony of chainsaws for weeks — since Hurricane Florence and then Tropical Storm Michael blew down trees and limbs around the city.  

David Boraks / WFAE

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón told energy engineers in Charlotte Wednesday that ending the use of fossil fuels is essential to halt climate change, and it's actually good for the global economy.

A worker delivers bottled water to a home in Belmont, near Duke Energy's Allen coal plant. Duke will provide a permament drinking water supply to well owners by 2018.
David Boraks / WFAE

Three years after concerns emerged over coal ash seeping into groundwater, neighbors of 14 Duke Energy coal plants in North Carolina finally have new, permanent water supplies.

Environmental groups tracked logs that were cut from North Carolina forests to Enviva's plants.
Dogwood Alliance

Production of wood pellets continues to expand in North Carolina and across the South. Millions of tons are sent every year to be burned in power plants in Europe, where they're considered a form of renewable energy. But after heavy flooding from hurricanes Matthew and Florence, there's also growing debate over just how environmentally friendly they are.

Catawba Nuclear Station, on Lake Wylie.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has offered buyouts to some employees who work in information technology and nuclear power. A spokesman would not say how many people are affected by the voluntary severance program but said it's part of regular efforts to improve efficiency.

Margaret Hansbrough of the environmental group Mighty Earth is leading the "Stainless" campaign, urging steelmakers to convert to 100 percent clean electricity.
David Boraks / WFAE

Environmental groups launched a nationwide campaign in Charlotte calling on steel makers to stop using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. The lead target of the "Stainless" clean energy campaign is Charlotte-based Nucor. Nucor is the largest U.S. steelmaker and has pioneered in the use of electric arc furnaces.

The $180 million project would include a 21-mile pipeline from Norwood, in Stanly County, to Union County.
Union County

A legal settlement has brought Union County a step closer to beginning work on a $180 million pipeline project to draw water from Lake Tillery on the Yadkin River. 

A house was flooded in Columbus County.
David Boraks / WFAE

Complaints about mosquitoes are on the rise across North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. They're plentiful and in some cases a lot bigger than what we're used to. 

The flooding Cape Fear River has surrounded the gas-fired Sutton plant near Wilmington and overrun a former cooling lake on the site.
Duke Energy

Flood waters have forced Duke Energy to shut down its power plant along the Cape Fear River near Wilmington. 

Floodwaters Inundate Lake At NC Power Plant, Raising Alarm

Sep 20, 2018

Duke Energy activated a high-level emergency alert at a retired coal-fired power plant in North Carolina as floodwaters from the nearby Cape Fear River overtopped an earthen dike at the facility and inundated a large lake, raising concerns of a potential breach.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy said rains from Hurricane Florence caused a release of storm water at the Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington. The company said some of that water “may have come into contact” with coal ash from a lined landfill at the site.

The Monroe solar farm, on about 400 acres off South Rocky River Road, has about 684,000 solar panels.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy says it expects to nearly triple its solar power generating capacity over the next 15 years in the Carolinas. At the same time, the company says in a new filing with state regulators it will continue to build gas-fired plants and close coal-fired plants. 

The Conversation: Farsighted Adaptation To Rising Seas Is Blocked By Just Fixing Eroded Beaches

Sep 2, 2018
Soil Science, CC BY


Coastal communities around the world are struggling to adapt to rising sea levels and increasingly severe coastal storms. 

Sheldon Scruggs tends goats on his farm in western Mecklenburg County.
David Boraks / WFAE

Mecklenburg County has more than 230 farms, about half the number of 40 years ago. Residential and commercial development, rising land costs and urbanization are to blame. But renewed interest in local food and the growth of farmers markets offer hope for reversing the trend. Farm advocates say Voluntary Agricultural Districts could protect remaining farms, and maybe encourage more. 

One of four turbines inside the mountain serve two purposes: to generate electricity and to pump water back up into the lake.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy has begun a $200 million project to add electrical generating capacity at a big hydroelectric dam in South Carolina. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Aug. 6 approved a license amendment that lets Duke install more powerful turbines at the Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station on Lake Jocassee, in northwest South Carolina.