A war of words rang out Monday at uptown's Stonewall and Church streets, where demonstrators gathered at Duke Energy's headquarters. The crowd of more than 250 protested the environmental impacts of Duke's coal use and expansion of its Cliffside power plant west of Charlotte.
Read below for Duke's defense of Cliffside, and here for a letter sent to Duke CEO Jim Rogers last week by some of the groups taking part in Monday's protest.
· Cliffside is a bridge plant to a lower carbon future. We will make the new unit at Cliffside carbon neutral by retiring 1,000 megawatts of higher-emitting plants in North Carolina. Once we bring the new Cliffside Unit 6 on line in 2012, it will be the cleanest coal-fired power plant in the nation.
· On March 13, 2009, Duke Energy received a revised air permit for the new unit from the N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ), which designates that the unit is a minor source of hazardous air pollutants, rather than a major emitter. This designation by the DAQ confirms the new Cliffside Unit 6 will have among the strictest, most effective air emission controls available to protect public health and the environment. Here is a link to the DAQ’s press release.
· Duke Energy has a comprehensive plan to meet energy needs by using a diverse fuel mix. Currently, we use coal, nuclear, hydro, natural gas and energy efficiency to provide affordable, reliable power to customers as cleanly as possible. We are building two cleaner coal plants, one in North Carolina and one in Indiana, that will allow us to retire older, higher-emitting units once the new units come on line. We plan to build two new natural gas plants in North Carolina and are keeping the option open to build a new nuclear plant in South Carolina.
· Additionally, we are pursuing an enhanced energy efficiency program – save-a-watt- that incents us to aggressively save energy; working in North Carolina on a plan to create mini-power plants by installing solar panels on rooftops, and signed a 20-year agreement to buy the full output of a new solar farm in Davidson County, N.C.
· At the same time, we are developing wind energy in areas of the United States where abundant supplies of wind are available. In fact, we are co-owner of one of the largest wind farms in Texas. This spring, we will have more than 500 megawatts of wind power in operation and another 5,000 megawatts in development in 14 U.S. states.
· Coal and nuclear power provide baseload energy needs for customers. To suggest that Duke Energy is not pursuing renewables or that renewables can provide baseload needs is simply inaccurate. Bruce Henderson