Duke Power

Hearing on Duke-Progress by Utilities Commission Tuesday, July 10

By Staff, wire reports@WRAL.com

RALEIGH, N.C. —

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has scheduled a meeting next Tuesday to review the merger of Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy Inc. in the wake of the sudden ouster of the combined utility's chief executive.

Separately, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper demanded late Friday that Duke turn over all communications among top executives and board members during the days leading up to and following the merger...

The Commission meeting will be held Tuesday, July 10, in rooom 2115 of the Dobbs Building, 430 N. Salisbury Street, Raleigh, to hear from James Rogers.

Could it be that Duke has po'ed the regulators?

Duke - Progress Energy Talks

New York Times is reporting that the deal between Duke and Progress Energy is all but done.

I am particularly interested because I just started a job with KEMA, a company that manages Progress Energy's Efficiency for Business program.

I'll keep you posted!

EPA Releases Action Reports for Coal Ash

Thursday afternoon the EPA announced action plans for 43 coal ash impoundments at 22 facilities throughout the U.S. Since May 2009 the EPA has been investigating the structural integrity of coal ash ponds. After each facility reviews an EPA report on their facility, they propose a plan of action. This plan is then reviewed and approved by the EPA.

Duke Power operates 5 facilities in North Carolina that require these action plans. The report for the Allen Steam Plant in Belmont, NC included a number of steps to ensure the structural stability of their impoundment. Although the plan included repairs for seepage, no where in the report do they mention water table testing. Coal ash has been linked to cause cancer and nervous system conditions when its found in the water table. We hope that the EPA will rule to label coal ash as a hazardous material, which will allow for tighter regulations. We expect the EPA to rule on this in the coming weeks.

Duke Power has discovered a "fifth fuel." And they want to pass one tenth of the savings on to you!

This happened about a year ago. But with Cliffside in the news, I think this deserves some attention. Last May, around the time that the Progress Energy plant was a hot topic in Asheville, Duke Energy floated a fascinating proposal to the NC Utilities Commission. In it, they suggested that they would promote energy efficiency as a "fifth fuel" by sponsoring education programs and providing subsidies for the purchase of more energy-efficient appliances and devices.

So far, so good. Where it gets weird is in the reward Duke sought for being virtuous: a new fee (starting at $15 per customer per year) that would compensate the utility for the electricity it didn't sell because of decreased demand. That fee was based not only on program costs or unsold wattage, but also on the cost of the power plants the utility would have had to build if customers didn't conserve.

Missed Opportunity

Part of the deal with Google to locate in Lenoir involved secret negotiations between Duke Power and Google for land controlled by Duke Power and electricity to be supplied by Duke Power. These dealings were blessed with exemptions for sales tax on the purchase of that electricity. One legacy of Lenoir's declining manufacturing activity is a robust electric distribution system yet, as Duke's applications for new generating capacity demonstrate, electricity supply is constrained.

Google has released very little information about plans for the new server farm but some assumptions can be made about electricity demands. Server farms and data centers require substantially more power per square foot than a typical office building. Other than normal electric loads like lighting, the demand for electricity in server farms comes from the servers themselves and the air conditioning required to deal with the heat generated.

State with the worst air pollution in the US? Ohio, with NC a close Second

The North Carolina Public Interest Research Group released a study this week which places North Carolina second, behind Ohio, for the highest level of power plant pollutants released into the air in 2004. Come on, Progress. Come on Duke. We can do better. Number 2 is the first loser, right guys?

The 65-page report is long on detail and begins,

Every day in America, industrial facilities release millions of pounds of toxic substances into the nation’s air and water. Many Americans – especially those who live in close proximity to industrial facilities –harbor deep concern about how those toxic releases may affect their health.

Harbor deep concern about those toxic releases affecting their health. Go figure. I mean, it's not like we have County Commissioners and power companies making secret deals to build just such industrial facilities upwind from cities... oh, wait, here in Buncombe County we do. And it is not like industry would lie about their ambitions and facts about their pollution... oh wait, they do that too.

N&O poo-poos idea of new coal fired power plants...will you?

The N&O's editorial board has seen the light, calling on the NC Utilties Commission (NCUC to deny Duke's request to build two new coal fired power plants at their Cliffside operation). They also call on the Legislature to pick up the pace and work to find better solutions to the energy supply vs. global climate change conundrum.

The good news: Senator Charlie Albertson has already filed a Renewable Portfolio Standard bill. The bad news: legislators filed a RPS bill last session which didn't go anywhere, and the utilities are one of the strongtest forces in the Legislature.

Before the fight goes to the Legislature, stopping the Cliffside project must happen. Duke is calling on the NCUC to make a decision on Cliffside by February 28.

Below the fold for more on how to help...

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