Duke Energy

Coal Ash Wednesday: Sanford stuck between clay and a hard place

This is one battle they've already lost:

“In the early 90s, Waste Management tried to put a landfill out at the same site that was just purchased by Chara,” Crumpton continued. “Then there was an attempt in 2006 where D H Griffin was trying to site a construction and demolition debris landfill out in the Cumnock area.” Chara is the landfill management company Duke Energy contracted to supervise and operate the coal ash storage sites in Lee and Chatham counties.

The difference between past attempts at putting landfills in Lee County and Duke’s plan to transfer coal ash from Mount Holly and Wilmington to the 410-acre site off Post Office Road is that, pending approval from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the plan to store coal ash in Lee County is a done deal.

Granted, taking advantage of an already-existing impermeable layer of clay for coal ash storage is smart, but communities should still be able to reject such projects if a majority of the citizens don't approve. Giving Duke Energy carte blanche to put that crap anywhere they want in the state is a recipe for disaster, because money (cost) will eventually be their only concern. That's how we got into this mess in the first place.

You get what you vote for

The good folks of Lee County are up in arms about Duke Energy & Pollution's plan to dump coal ash in Sanford and Moncure.

If the comments made during a meeting inside the Lee County Board of Commissioners Room Monday night are any indication, Lee County residents do not want coal ash in their backyards.

“Who invited this idea,” one resident asked. “Why weren’t we notified sooner? And what is the purpose of bringing coal ash to our area?”

“If the coal ash dumping is so desirable, then why aren't the CEOs from Duke Power and their neighbors fighting to have it in their backyards,” another resident said.

Coal Ash Wednesday: SELC doing the jobs of ineffective regulators

Begging the question: What are we paying those regulators for?

Following lawsuits by SELC, two of the three utilities in the Carolinas -- South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper -- are removing coal ash from unlined pits near rivers to dry, lined storage facilities away from rivers and lakes. SELC is currently representing dozens of groups in 10 state and federal lawsuits to address 14 leaking coal ash sites maintained by Duke Energy throughout North Carolina.

For decades, the EPA has developed and issued guidelines to individual states on how to comply with Federal statutes on clean air and water, because the enforcement "arm" of this system relies on state environmental agencies. But due to mostly Republican oversight of these state operations, that part of the job is not getting done. The bottom line is, SELC isn't engaging in "activism" or some other hot-button term, they are stepping into an empty space where a state government regulator should be standing, and yet Republican leaders in the General Assembly would have us blame them for "meddling." Business as usual for the GOP, break something and then blame those who try to fix it.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy profits up 27%

I'm sure the surviving fish in the Dan River will be impressed:

Duke earned nearly $1.3 billion for the quarter, compared to $1 billion a year earlier, on $6.4 billion in revenue. Earnings per share of $1.80 were boosted 43 cents by the sale in the Midwest. Adjusted for such one-time events, earnings were $1.40 a share compared to the $1.46 of the same period last year and below analysts’ estimates of $1.52.

The company estimated its costs under North Carolina’s coal ash legislation, which mandates that Duke close its 32 coal ash ponds by 2029, at $3.4 billion. That figure is likely to change, but Duke had previously told regulators it could cost as much as $10 billion to close the ponds.

Yes, they told the regulators that before the Legislature's coal ash bill was finished and voted on, so the "scare tactics" are no longer necessary. I would normally have more to say about this, but it's apparent way too many NC voters are asleep at the wheel.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Putting lipstick on a toxic pig

Duke Energy's "philanthropy" geared towards area beautification, not watershed protection:

The foundation is particularly interested in receiving applications from economic development programs that would enhance “community beautification and maintenance with a measurable impact on increasing tourism, business and population growth within the county.”

In the environmental category, RCCF seeks programs “that have a visible impact on the local community, such as outdoor classrooms or environmental signage along trails, (and) walkways along the river.”

While this $10 million from Duke Energy was a voluntary donation and had no regulatory requirements attached, the "visible impact" qualifier for use of these funds makes it part of their wider public relations efforts. Most of the real work that is done safeguarding and enhancing water quality is not visible to the average passerby, but it's much more important than streetscaping or posting a sign by a trail.

Coal Ash Wednesday: McCrory says environmental orgs should help pay for cleanup

Instead of spending their money on political ads against him:

The theme of the spots has been that new regulations the governor signed are too lax. They conclude with the message that the governor “has coal ash on his hands,” showing an image of dirty palms.

"I think it's just a total waste of money," McCrory told reporters during a tour of SAS in Cary. "They ought to be spending their money to clean up the environment ... not on ridiculous, negative political TV ads."

There's more than one mess that needs to be cleaned up. North Carolina's political mess is quite possibly more dangerous to our natural resources than coal ash impoundments, because it encompasses everything from fracking and offshore drilling to the relaxation of air and water quality regulations that keep industry and developers in check. And the only way to clean up that particular mess is to remove the GOP contamination of the General Assembly and the Governor's mansion.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Hundreds of NC drinking water wells at risk

And every one of them should be tested:

Duke Energy officials have identified 830 private and public drinking water supply wells near the company’s 32 coal ash storage ponds in North Carolina, according to an initial survey the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released on Friday. Duke Energy conducted the survey to meet a requirement of the Coal Ash Management Act, which recently became state law.

DENR staff members are reviewing the surveys to determine which wells should be sampled first, and how frequently and how long sampling should continue. The determination will be completed based on the hydrologic potential for impacts to the drinking water wells. The sampling plan can be amended as additional information is gathered about the flow of groundwater and the extent of any detected contamination.

One of the best (only?) ways to determine the flow of groundwater is to test for the migration of specific elements, and the easiest way to do that is to, you know, test all the fricking wells. You can speculate about the flow by examining (what we believe) is the nature of the sub-strata, but computer models won't be much consolation to a family exposed to contamination.

Complaint filed with PUC

My first communication with the Public Utilities Commission

http://www.ncuc.net/overview/contactus.htm

Dear sir or madam,

I am writing today to file an official complaint against Duke Energy Protection Services (DEPS). The matter involves action DEPS takes when a residential account is in dispute. Here are the issues in my particular case.

The arrogance of (Duke) power

As a 35-year customer of Duke Energy, I expect to be able to navigate their maze of “customer service” barriers with relative ease. I’ve started, stopped, and transferred service dozens of times with only minor injuries. This week, however, I met my match. I ran into the grotesque monstrosity known as Duke Protection. It is a bureaucracy so impenetrable and imperious, it would stop Indiana Jones dead in his tracks.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of dealing with Duke Protection, you must count yourself lucky. They are the gestapo of the Duke Energy monopoly machine, and they operate without regard to reason.

The story of my frustration is simple one. Through a billing mix-up that is impossible to track down, the electric service to my daughter’s apartment in Chapel Hill was cut off without warning last week. When she called to get service restarted, she was directed to Duke Protection, where Melody, a mindless cog in the monopoly machine, determined that she must show an actual Social Security Card to affirm that she is indeed who she says she is.

If you live in Chapel Hill and don’t have a car, you are shit out of luck in the Social Security Card department. The closest office is in Durham, which may as well be the moon to a person living ten miles away without transportation. Even for those with transportation, the ordeal is arduous. Just the sort of thing Republican's love, as evidenced by their Voter ID fetish.

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