Press Release: Duke Energy Request to Raise Energy Bills Would Hurt Working Families, Limit Energy-Efficiency in Western NC

Press Release: Duke Energy Request to Raise Energy Bills Would Hurt Working Families, Limit Energy-Efficiency in Western NC

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Duke Energy Request to Raise Energy Bills Would Hurt Working Families, Limit Energy-Efficiency in Western NC

Media Contact:

Eliza Stokes

Advocacy & Communications Associate, MountainTrue

E: eliza@mountaintrue.org; P: 828-258-8737 ext. 218

Jan. 10, 2018

Macon County– On Tuesday, January 16, residents of Western North Carolina will have the opportunity to gather at the Macon County Courthouse in Franklin to voice their opinions about Duke Energy’s proposed rate hike. Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves 2.2 million customers across the state and much of Western North Carolina, has requested approval to raise residential energy rates by 16.7% and to increase their revenue by approximately $647 million. The rate hike is being requested soon after the company rose energy rates by 5% in 2013.

Public interest advocates call the request an attempt to pass Duke’s coal ash clean up costs to the public, which they say would discourage energy-saving measures and be especially harmful for low-income families. The North Carolina Utilities Commission, the body that decides whether or not to approve Duke’s request, will receive the public testimony.

The rate hike would increase a typical residential customer’s bill by $18.72 per month, and would raise energy bills for residential customers more than for industrial and commercial customers. The rate hike would also include a 66% increase of the base energy charge from $11.80 to $17.79, discouraging energy saving measures by customers.

“Working families in Western North Carolina know that when you’re struggling to pay the bills and the mortgage and to put food on the table, you learn to be careful about how you use electricity,” says Robert E. Smith, a former Board Chair of the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance. “But with Duke Energy’s new mandatory fee, all families would be charged a minimum of $17.79 per month – about $213 per year – even if they never turned their lights on.”

Public interest advocates believe this rate hike would leave residents of North Carolina’s far western counties, many of whom already face a harsh economic reality, with another unneeded financial burden. Counties including Jackson, Macon, Swain, Graham, Cherokee, and Clay have been named Tier 1 counties by the North Carolina Department of Commerce for 2018, meaning they face the highest level of economic distress in the state. According to the NC Department of Commerce’s 2018 County Tier Designations, Graham County has a median household income of less than $34,000, with 22% of families living below the poverty line. Swain County has a median family income of $36,103 and a 24.5% poverty rate, while Yancey County has a median household income of $36,418 with a 21.7% poverty rate.

Over half of Duke’s rate hike – a total of $336 million would be used to pay for the company’s coal ash cleanup costs. Before proposing the rate hike to the NC Utilities Commission, Duke sought to have these costs covered by its insurance provider, but was refused. Due to past actions, the insurance company stated that “Duke failed to take reasonable measures to avoid and/or mitigate the damage resulting from coal ash disposal.” In 2015, three Duke Energy companies including Duke Energy Carolinas plead guilty to nine criminal environmental violations for their failure to protect NC waterways from coal ash pollution. More recently, it was revealed that Duke was aware of the harms of coal ash beginning in the 1980’s, but did not begin to take precautions.

The NC Utilities Commission hearing will be held Tuesday, January 16 at 7 pm at the Macon County Courthouse located at 5 W. Main St. Courtroom A, Franklin, NC, 28734. Those who plan to speak should arrive at 6:30 pm.

MountainTrue is the oldest grassroots environmental non-profit in Western North Carolina. With offices in Hendersonville, Asheville, and Boone, we work in 23 counties to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in our region. MountainTrue engages in policy advocacy at all levels of government, local project advocacy, and on-the-ground environmental restoration projects. Primary program areas include public lands, water quality, clean energy, land use/transportation, and citizen engagement. For more information: mountaintrue.org.

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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.

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

The following post is by North Carolina’s Riverkeepers through the Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

Dear Friend,

A lot of folks in North Carolina produce meat. The state ranks second nationally in pork production and is among the nation’s leaders in poultry production. But the way meat is produced makes a big difference.

Corporate-controlled industrial animal operations are one of the leading contributors to water pollution across North Carolina. But there are farmers throughout the Tar Heel state striving to provide high-quality food without harming their local communities. And they deserve our thanks and our business.

Waterkeepers across North Carolina have compiled a list of farms in their watersheds that feed us without threatening our rivers, lakes, and streams. The inventory at these farms varies, but they all have one thing in common: they’re trying to do things the right way. If you’re looking to buy a bird for your Thanksgiving feast, we encourage you to buy from one of the farms listed below (we recommend calling to reserve your bird now). And if you aren’t able to buy directly from a farmer, be sure to look for their products at farmers markets and grocery stores in your neighborhood, as many supply to local distributors.

This holiday season, let’s show our appreciation for environmentally conscious farmers who raise meat sustainably and humanely using traditional techniques. Please choose to make your holiday meal even more special by purchasing from true family farms and pledging to buy sustainably-raised meat this holiday season. And when you make your purchase, be sure to thank the farmer for taking steps to protect our environment!

 

Pledge to serve sustainable meat this holiday season here.

 

*Don’t see a sustainable farm in your community on this list? Please let us know!
Cape Fear Watershed
Grass Roots Pork Company
Patch Farmstead
Humble Roots Farm
Changin’ Ways
SF Farms
Old River Farms
AJ Family Farm
Lizzy Lou’s Family Farm
Red Beards Farm
Creeks Edge Farm
Beartrack Farm
Growing Tall Acres
NC Natural Hog Growers AssociationCatawba Watershed
Carolina Farm Trust
Foothills Pilot Plant
All Natural Farms
Bluebird FarmFrench Broad & Broad Watersheds
Buffalo Ridge
Cold Mountain Angus Beef
Farm House Beef
Frog Holler Organiks
Franny’s Farm
Gaining Ground Farm
Happy Hens & Highlands Farm
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Hominy Valley Farms
Mountain Valley Brand Beef
Warren Wilson College Farm
Haw Watershed
Rocky Run Farm
Cane Creek Farm
Reverence Farms
Braeburn Farms
Piemonte Farm
Twin Oaks Farm
Chapel Hill Creamery
Pine Trough Branch Farm
Beechcrest Farm
Meadows Family Farm
Lilly Den Farms
Perry-winkle Farm
Bushy Tail FarmsLumber Watershed
Fairfax-Lewis Farm
Chandler Worley Family Farms
Floyd Brothers Farm & Livestock
Happy Land Farms
Moore Brothers Natural
Raft Swamp Farms
John L. Council Farm
Country Corners Farm
SF Farms
Shepherd’s Run Farm​​Neuse Watershed
Rainbow Meadow FarmTar-Pamlico Watershed
Mae Farm Meats
Ray Family Farms
Lucky 3 FarmWhite-Oak Watershed
The Barnyard

Yadkin-Pee Dee Watershed
Grace Meadow Farm


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.

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Nov. 8 2017

Over the weekend, Duke Energy Spokesperson Danielle Peoples responded to MountainTrue’s paddle protest on the Broad River with multiple untrue statements about the dangers of coal ash and the extent of Duke’s pollution at their power plant in Cliffside, NC [“Battle over coal ash continues in Cliffside” (11/5/17)]. In a Letter-to-the-Editor for the Shelby Star, Western North Carolina’s Riverkeepers stand up for the truth on coal ash and our rivers and set the record straight.

 

It’s time for Duke Energy to come clean on coal ash pollution. In a recent article that ran in the Shelby Star  [“Battle over coal ash continues in Cliffside” (11/5/17)], Duke Energy spokesperson Danielle Peoples made numerous misleading statements about the dangers of coal ash and the ongoing pollution that is happening at Cliffside.

First, Peoples tells the Star that Duke has “finished excavating the basin earlier this year.” Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. There are three ash basins at Cliffside, and Duke Energy has only excavated its smallest one. The truth is that 90% of coal ash stored in ponds at that site remain in its two unlined pits, which continue to pollute area groundwater and the Broad River.

Inexplicably, People’s claim about Cliffside is compounded by a glaring error in the Star’s reporting —   that Duke Energy has closed all of its coal ash ponds around the state. This isn’t true at the Allen and Marshall plants near Charlotte, the Belews Creek plant near Winston-Salem, and it isn’t true at Cliffside where Duke Energy continues to operate a very active pond that they sluice wet ash into and discharge wastewater out of every day. We know this because this is how they operate under their current wastewater permit, and that doesn’t count all the additional illegal discharges that we’ve found.

What does the future have in store for Cliffside? Duke says that capping these unlined pits will solve the problem, but if the company has its way the remaining coal ash will be left sitting in up to 50 feet* of groundwater, continuing to pollute our groundwater and the river for centuries.

The most dangerous of Peoples’ assertions is that coal ash is nonhazardous. Here she hides behind a regulatory and legal technicality. While it is true that the Environmental Protection Agency declined to regulate coal ash as “hazardous waste” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the EPA was equally clear that “there is significant potential for [coal ash ponds] to leach hazardous constituents into groundwater, impair drinking water supplies and cause adverse impacts on human health and the environment.” The EPA has set health limits on the toxic heavy metals and other constituents found in the coal ash at Cliffside because they are dangerous to people.

Here in North Carolina, when a small business owner or company makes a mess, we expect them to clean it up. Duke Energy is the largest utility company in the country – they can handle it.

David Caldwell, Broad River Alliance

Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper

Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper

Andy Hill, Watauga Riverkeeper

*The original version of this post said “60 feet” instead of “50 feet” of groundwater. The error has been corrected. 

Want to get involved? Support our petition to make Duke Energy clean up their coal ash pollution of the Broad River and sign up for clean water action opportunities here.


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.

Take Action: Tell Duke Energy to Stop Polluting the Broad River with Coal Ash!

Take Action: Tell Duke Energy to Stop Polluting the Broad River with Coal Ash!

Take Action: Tell Duke Energy to Stop Polluting the Broad River with Coal Ash!

We’re building a movement to hold Duke Energy accountable for their coal ash pollution.

On Oct. 14, community members joined the Broad River Alliance and three other MountainTrue Riverkeepers for a paddle protest in front of Duke’s power plant in Cliffside, NC. Sign our petition below to keep the heat on and show Duke that North Carolina’s citizens will not tolerate their toxic pollution of our waterways.

 


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.

Attend USFS Open Houses And Speak Up for Protecting the Pisgah-Nantahala

Attend USFS Open Houses And Speak Up for Protecting the Pisgah-Nantahala

Attend USFS Open Houses And Speak Up for Protecting the Pisgah-Nantahala

The forests belong to all of us and we’re responsible for making sure they are protected for future generations.

As part of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests management plan revision process, the U.S. Forest Service will hold six open house events across the region from late June to early August to provide the public with opportunities to talk with Forest Service staff about local issues, district projects, and the forest plan revision.

If you care about Western North Carolina’s national forests, enjoy our beautiful mountain vistas and hiking trails, or playing in the many streams and swimming holes within Pisgah and Nantahala, this is your opportunity to talk directly with Forest Service staff one-on-one about how the forest will be managed for the years to come.

Each District Open House will highlight the areas within that district. District rangers and members of the Forest Plan revision team will be available to discuss the materials each of the following days and locations:

  • June 29, 6-8 p.m.: Grandfather Ranger District at Foothills Conference Center, 2128 S. Sterling St., Morganton.
  • July 11, 6-8 p.m.: Nantahala Ranger District at Tartan Hall, 26 Church St., Franklin.
  • July 13, 6-8 p.m.: Pisgah Ranger District Office, 1600 Pisgah Hwy, Brevard.
  • July 25, 3-6 p.m.: Appalachian Ranger District at Appalachian District Office, 632 Manor Road, Mars Hill.
  • July 25, 3-6 p.m.: Cheoah Ranger District at Cheoah District Office, 1070 Massey Branch Road, Robbinsville.
  • August 8, 3-6 p.m., Tusquitee Ranger District, Brasstown Community Center, 255 Settawig Rd, Brasstown

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests have been revising their Forest Plan, a required document that provides a general framework to guide management of the Forests. As part of the process, 30 public meetings have been held in communities throughout western North Carolina.

Over the past year, the Forest Service has been releasing pre-draft plan materials on the National Forests in North Carolina website – www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/nprevision. Additional materials are posted to the site’s Plan Revision Under Construction page as they become available.

Here are MountainTrue’s assessments based on the current pre-draft plan materials: 

  • Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in general:
    There are many special places that are in the wrong management area and lack the amount of protection they require. In particular, Daniel Ridge, Cedar Rock Mountain, Upper Santeetlah Creek, Ash Cove, Tellico Bald, Snowball Mountain, Lickstone Ridge, and dozens of smaller natural areas are not protected by the forest plan. The Bartram Trail, Benton McKay Trail, Art Loeb Trail, and Mountains-To-Sea Trail lack a management area that would preserve the special character of these long-distance hiking trails. They should be designated as special corridors, similar to the Appalachian Trail and the Trail of Tears which have such protection.We are pleased by the creation of a new Special Interest Area in Big Ivy, though it should cover all of Big Ivy, and not just a portion of it.By Ranger Districts:
  • Grandfather Ranger District: Linville Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The Upper Creek Gorge/Sugar Knob Backcountry area should be expanded. The Upper Wilson Creek Backcountry area should be expanded.
  • Appalachian Ranger District: Snowball Mountain, Coxcombe Mountain, and Shope Creek should be included in the Craggy Mountains/Big Ivy Special Interest Area.
  • Pisgah Ranger District: Upper Courthouse Creek, Daniel Ridge, Cedar Rock Mountain, and upper Lickstone Ridge should be placed in backcountry Management to protect their remote character and the species that depend on them.
  • Nantahala Ranger District: All of Panthertown Valley and Flat Creek should be in backcountry management. Tellico Bald, Siler Bald, and Fish Hawk Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The backcountry area around Terrapin Mountain should be expanded to 4,000 acres.  Corbin Knob, Hench Knob, and Chunky Gal Mountain should be Special Interest Areas.
  • Cheoah Ranger District: Upper Santeetlah Creek should be a Special Interest Area or backcountry area.
  • Tusquitee District: Gipp Creek should be placed in backcountry management. The Unicoi Mountain backcountry area should be expanded.

We encourage you to turn out and speak up for protecting these natural areas of our forests. We will have staff at each of these open house events and we look forward to meeting you there.


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.

Giving Billboard Companies More Power and Money is Wrong for North Carolina!

Giving Billboard Companies More Power and Money is Wrong for North Carolina!

Giving Billboard Companies More Power and Money is Wrong for North Carolina!

A bill on the move in the North Carolina General Assembly would benefit billboard companies at the expense of our environment, our local governments and taxpayers.

Click here to take action!

H581, the “Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws,” would give extraordinary new powers to billboard companies allowing them to relocate existing billboards anywhere they choose, even where they are not currently allowed; cut more trees to increase billboard visibility; switch traditional signs to flashing digital billboards regardless of local regulations; and charge taxpayers more money if they have to relocate a sign because of construction.

Take action today and tell your legislators today to oppose H581. Ask them to stand with our communities and oppose billboard industry special interests.

west buncombe billboard


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