NC WARN looks for local support for environmental plan

NC WARN Director Jim Warren makes a presentation on his group's plan.

NC WARN looks for local  support for environmental plan
December 14
04:00 2017

NC WARN is hoping for local support in its effort to replace half of all fossil fuels used for electricity in the state by 2025, and replace them all by 2030.

The environmental advocacy group held a meeting at Green Street United Methodist Church on Monday to present its plan. NC WARN Director Jim Warren said that the last four years have been the hottest on record, which he said contributes to things like the more severe fires and hurricanes seen this year. He said natural gas, which is methane, is a big cause of that. It’s 80-100 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat when it leaks or is vented unburned.

Warren said the solution is within reach. Advances in solar power, batteries to store the energy it generates and ways to conserve power have created an economical way that Duke Energy could switch to renewable energy. He said Duke Energy is generating less than 2 percent of its energy from renewables currently and plans to increase that to 6 percent by 2031, with 47 percent nuclear power and 41 percent coal and gas power. He believes Duke can do far more, and replace half its fossil fuels by 2025 and all of them by 2030.

The NC Clean Path 2025 plan, written by engineer Bill Powers, proposes putting solar power in the communities that use it and moving away from a reliance on a large power grid. Warren said the panels would be put on top of buildings and in vacant lots.  He said this plan would cost a small fraction of the planned modernization of the current grid and the pipeline and natural gas plants Duke is planning to build while creating thousands more jobs.

“There are no technical or economic reasons not to do this,” said Warren.

Under the plan, coal-fired plants would be phased out in favor of hydroelectric, solar and wind. Nuclear plants would run until their licenses expire and natural gas plants would be used as backups. There would be energy usage reduction from efficiency, and demand response would be used to reduce peak usage for some costumers.

Warren said the plan was sent to the state utilities commission but was never heard. He said he believes Duke’s influence and reliance on old business models is preventing Clean Path from gaining traction. He’s hoping local activism in “priority counties” around the state – Buncombe, Chatham, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg and Orange – can help make it a reality.

NC WARN is hoping activism will push Duke and the General Assembly toward new policies. They’ll also be asking local governments to install solar panels and batteries at their buildings and encourage municipal utilities to participate.

Activists say they’ve already had conversations with City Council members and county commissioners who’ve expressed interest in the plan, and plan to eventually ask for a resolution to be brought before the City Council.

Tony Ndege, one of the local organizers, told attendees that they need to build a movement.

“This is something that involves all of us,” he said. “There’s no escaping this planet.”

NC WARN plans to hold another local meeting next month.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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