Energy & Environment

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

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A federal jury decided Friday that the world's largest pork producer should pay $473.5 million to neighbors of three North Carolina industrial-scale hog farms for unreasonable nuisances they suffered from odors, flies and rumbling trucks.

Duke Energy imploded the oldest section of the retired Buck Steam Station coal fired power plant Thursday.
Duke Energy

With a series of explosions Thursday morning, Duke Energy demolished the oldest section of the Buck Steam Station, on the Yadkin River near Salisbury.

In February 2017, workers used a giant crane to lower a containment vessel ring into place at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Fairfield County, S.C.
SCANA

Shareholders of SCANA voted Tuesday to sell the South Carolina utility to Virginia-based Dominion Energy, which has agreed to swallow billions of dollars in debt from the company's failed nuclear construction project and other operations.

Duke has offered $62 milllion in rebates over five years to help pay for solar panels on a home, business or nonprofit rooftops.
Duke Energy

Just two weeks after Duke Energy began taking applications for new solar energy rebates, the program has run out of money for homeowners and businesses for this year. 

Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Federal regulators are allowing work on the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline to expand in North Carolina.

Cube Hydro's Narrows Dam on Badin Lake is among those in the dispute with Duke Energy.
Cube Hydro Partners

State regulators have ruled against the owner of hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River, in a dispute over how it sells electricity to Duke Energy.

David Boraks / WFAE

Electricity rates will increase slightly for thousands of households in central and western North Carolina even though state regulators rejected Duke Energy's most recent rate hike request, the company said Wednesday.

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

Duke Energy has put out a call for companies that want to build new large-scale solar farms around the state.  The projects would satisfy a 2017 state law that requires the company to seek competitive bids for new solar projects.

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

Duke Energy will begin offering solar rebates Monday in North Carolina. Solar energy advocates say it could help speed installations of rooftop solar panels.

A mountain of coal ash has been reduced to the original ground level near Riverbend.
David Boraks / WFAE

A string of decisions by North Carolina regulators this year means electricity consumers could be seeing a multibillion-dollar bill to clean up mountains of waste Duke Energy created over decades burning coal to produce power.

David Boraks/ WFAE

Duke Energy says state regulators' Friday order denying its request for a rate hike in its western North Carolina territory could still mean a small rate increase for customers. 

Duke Energy headquarters in Charlotte
David Boraks / WFAE

State regulators have rejected Duke Energy's request for a rate increase and instead ordered slight rate reductions in its western North Carolina territory, including Charlotte. The order doesn't say exactly what Duke's new rates will be, and it's still possible some customers could see slight rate increases.

JOSH STEIN

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says a proposed settlement that would allow Duke Energy to begin charging customers for electric grid improvements is unfair to ratepayers. That's in a filing with utilities regulators Friday in response to Duke's proposed agreement with a group of environmental and business groups.  

Gov Roy Cooper
GOV. ROY COOPER

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has joined governors from four other coastal states in opposing proposed federal legislation that sets new rules for offshore oil and gas production. 

A Duke Energy substation.
Duke Energy

The state's utility consumer advocate and other groups are opposing Duke Energy's agreement earlier this month to limit a planned $7.8 billion electric grid modernization program.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission Public Staff, the environmental group NC WARN, and the Carolina Utility Customers Association say the program would result in unacceptably higher rates.

Construction begins this summer on the Rodanthe Bridge, a 2-4 mile span that goes into Pamlico Sound to avoid Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
NCDOT

A federal judge's order this week lets construction go ahead on a project designed to solve frequent storm damage on part of NC 12 at North Carolina's Outer Banks. It's an elevated roadway that takes the road off Hatteras Island and into Pamlico Sound, north of Rodanthe. 

The agreement calls for Duke to expand the use of battery storage in rural areas.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has reached a deal with environmental and business groups that could limit how long it can charge customers for improvements to the energy grid in western North Carolina.  The partial settlement comes as Duke awaits a decision from regulators on a proposed 10 percent rate increase.

Duke Energy on Thursday announced more than $1.2 million in new grants to support environmental and wildlife programs in the Carolinas and Virginia.  The grants are from the company’s $10 million Water Resources Fund.

Wikimedia Commons

Mooresville-based Lowe's said Tuesday it will phase out sales of paint strippers containing methylene chloride and the solvent NMP by year's end.  The move comes amid a push by environmental groups to outlaw the chemicals, which can be lethal if inhaled.

Duke Energy headquarters in Charlotte
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy’s first-quarter shares are up slightly from last year, according to an earnings report released by the Charlotte-based company Thursday morning.

North Carolina officials are resolving a complaint of environmental racism by promising tougher oversight of industrial swine operations blamed for polluting the air and water. Environmental groups had filed two civil rights complaints against the NC Department of Environmental Quality. They said the hog operations in the eastern part of the state were harming the health of minority communities.

Duke CEO Lynn Good (right) responded to a question about executive pay from Duke investor relations director Michael Callahan during Thursday's online only annual meeting.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy officials defended last year's big pay package for CEO Lynn Good during the company's online-only annual meeting Thursday afternoon.  Good got $21.4 million dollars in salary, bonuses, stock and other compensation - nearly double her pay two years before.

Sheep from a local farm are grazing to keep grass down beneath the panels at Duke Energy's Monroe solar farm.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy says it expanded renewable energy generation by about 19 percent in 2017. That's according to the company's annual sustainability report out Monday morning.

Air quality in the Carolinas has improved in recent years, thanks to environmental laws.
David Boraks / WFAE

The American Lung Association's annual air quality report is out. It gives good grades overall for air quality in the Carolinas, though some cities saw slight increases in bad air days between 2014 and 2016 - the latest data available.

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

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether it's legal for anyone other than a public utility to sell electricity in North Carolina.

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

Duke Energy customers in North Carolina will be able to get rebates of up to $6,000 each beginning this summer for installing solar panels on their homes.  The four-year, $62 million rebate program was approved by state regulators last week. It's required under a 2017 state law designed to keep solar power growing in North Carolina.

A dam holding back a coal ash pond sits beside the Catawba River, in Gaston County.
David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 1:45 p.m.
The state Environmental Management Commission has finalized a $156,000 fine and ordered Duke Energy to speed up work to contain leaks at coal ash ponds at three North Carolina plants. That's under a consent order approved Thursday by the state Environmental Management Commission in Raleigh.

Duke Energy plans to excavate coal ash from this and other basins at the Buck plant in Salisbury, then reprocess it for use in concrete and other construction materials.
Duke Energy

State environmental regulators are gathering comments on a proposed air quality permit that would let Duke Energy reprocess and recycle coal ash stored at the Buck plant in Salisbury, North Carolina. The 30-day public comment period wraps up with a public hearing Tuesday night.  

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

Duke Energy last week began generating electricity in eastern North Carolina with natural gas from a new source: hog waste. It helps Duke meet a state mandate, while benefiting farmers, too.

David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy says it could completely phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050. By then, the utility expects to be generating electricity through a mix of other sources, including nuclear and gas-fired plants, and wind and solar farms.  That possible scenario came in a special Climate Report to Shareholders published Thursday.

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