Energy & Environment

News and information about energy, environment or both from Charlotte and the Carolinas. 

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Duke imploded its retired Sutton coal-fired plant in 2016.
Duke Energy

President Donald Trump wants to revive the coal industry and bring back coal jobs. But big coal buyers like Duke Energy are moving in the opposite direction. Duke's annual sustainability report calls for continuing to invest in cleaner energy sources, like natural gas and solar power. 

Blue sky over uptown Charlotte
David Boraks / WFAE

An annual report out this week shows air quality in North Carolina and other southeastern states is continuing to improve. Federal and state laws have made the difference, but there's concern lawmakers may try to weaken those rules. 

A worker mows Tim Mascara's lawn on Sloan Street in Davidson. Workers wet the grass and wore protective gear because of concern over asbestos.
Courtesy of Tim Mascara

There was a strange sight in Davidson a few weeks ago – workers in white suits mowing lawns. It’s part of a $3 million asbestos cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at about 20 homes and other properties around an old mill.

Charlotte is known as a tree city, with lush neighborhoods and even tree-lined downtown streets, like College Street.
David Boraks / WFAE

Charlotte has a goal of having trees cover 50 percent of the city by 2050. But a report out this month says the city may have trouble hitting that goal, as trees disappear faster than they can be planted.

The 10-year plan includes upgrading power lines and systems across Duke's North Carolina grid.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy plans to spend an extra $13 billion over the next decade to modernize the power lines and systems that distribute electricity in North Carolina. The upgrades include burying lines, adding technology to reduce outages, and giving customers more energy efficiency tools. 

An Alcoa dam on Badin Lake.
Julie Rose / WFAE

North Carolina's lawsuit over ownership of the Yadkin riverbed isn't over, even though a federal appeals court ruled against the state this week. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Stein says the state will ask for a re-hearing of the case before all 15 judges at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

The Yadkin River dams once supplied power to Alcoa's smelter on Badin Lake.
Julie Rose / WFAE

Updated Thursday, April 6, 2017
A federal appeals court has ruled that North Carolina cannot claim ownership of the riverbed near dams along the Yadkin River. In a 2-1 decision this week, judges upheld a lower court ruling in the state's lawsuit against aluminum giant Alcoa over control of a 45-mile stretch of the Yadkin.

Duke Energy is removing coal ash from basins near the retired Riverbend Plant, near Mountain Island Lake.
David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 1:43 p.m.
Duke Energy is suing 30 insurance companies over who should pay to clean up toxic coal ash at its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. The utility says any money it recovers in the suit will help reduce future rate increases to pay for cleanups.

A wind farm near Elizabeth City, NC.
Sarah McCammon / NPR

Several Republican state senators are trying again this session to limit the expansion of wind power, saying new turbines could interfere with military flights. The bill filed Wednesday, the Military Operations Protection Act of 2017, would halt permits for new wind farms until studies show they are safe.

Duke Energy's Preston Pierce stands atop the dam above Bad Creek Hydro Station in South Carolina.
David Boraks / WFAE

Wind and solar power get most of the attention when it comes to renewable energy. But Duke Energy has another alternative - a type of hydroelectric power called pumped storage. WFAE reporter David Boraks visited Bad Creek hydroelectric station in upstate South Carolina, where Duke is getting ready to invest millions of dollars in upgrades.

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