FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 8, 2015
Media Contacts:
Karim Olaechea, MountainTrue
C: 415-535-9004
Melissa Williams, Sierra Club
C: 828-545-0443

Environmental advocates respond to Duke Energy’s review of its ‘Western Carolinas Modernization’ project

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Duke Energy today announced delay its plans and reconsider its options to its originally proposed Western Carolinas Modernization project, which includes a new natural gas-powered station at Lake Julian, “foothill” transmission lines and a new substation in Campobello, S.C.

Duke Energy cited community concerns expressed through more than 9,000 public comments that the utility received from customers and the affected community as the reason to extend the review and to consider alternatives to all components of this plan.

Statement from Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue:

“We are pleased that Duke Energy is responding to the needs and desires of the people of Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. This decision shows what is possible when a community unites to protect the land that we all love, and when a company listens. More than 9,000 concerned residents made their voices heard, and local elected leaders should be thanked for standing strong. As Duke considers its options, we hope they will propose a new plan that respects our communities’ values, needs, and love of the land; includes more renewables and greater use of energy efficiency programs; and lessens our reliance on fossil fuels.

As Duke undertakes its analysis, we will remain united through our partnership with the Carolina Land Coalition. Join the coalition next Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville for a picnic and rally as we continue to build momentum and move forward a better energy future for all of us.”

Statement from Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in North Carolina:

“It’s great to see Duke Energy is reconsidering its plans and responding to public outcry about the scale and impact of that building an oversized natural gas plant and massive transmission lines will have on our community.

Duke should now do what it should have from the start: develop a truly modern plan for Western North Carolina that maximizes investments in solar energy, energy efficiency, and battery storage rather than locking our region into reliance on fossil fuel electricity for generations to come.  Clean energy investments are the best bet not only for public health and the environment, but also for the Duke’s customers who will foot the bill for the modernization project.

Energy efficiency measures and solar power are among the most affordable, lowest cost options for electricity, and we expect Duke Energy to take this into account in planning for Western North Carolina’s energy future.”

Statement from Cathy Jackson, vice-president Saluda Business Association and member of the Carolina Land Coalition:

“It’s great that Duke Energy is finally taking the concerns of our communities seriously. We expect this process to lead to a more responsible proposal that address our energy needs without adversely affecting public health, the beauty of our land or the economy of the region. We will stay alert and united through the Carolina Land Coalition, and I invite all concerned residents to join us on October 18, at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville for the Protect Our Land Community Picnic. Let’s keep the pressure up!”

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue fosters and empowers communities throughout the region and engages in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on the ground projects. To achieve our goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality and promoting clean energy – all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our residents. MountainTrue is the home of the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers, and French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed. For more information: mountaintrue.org

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

About the Carolina Land Coalition
We are a group of residents, business owners, visitors and ratepayers that are concerned about transmission lines and scale of the new natural gas plant and substation proposed by Duke Energy in the Western Carolinas Foothills Modernization Plan. For more information: carolinalandcoalition.org


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.