Energy & Environment

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

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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.

map of yadkin hydro dams
Alcoa Power Generating Inc.

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, Thursday took up a long-running dispute between North Carolina and aluminum giant Alcoa over who owns the land under the Yadkin River. As the state appealed a lower court ruling, oral arguments delved into American history, and whether the river has ever been navigable.

Gypsum (foreground) and coal stored at Duke Energy's Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman.
David Boraks / WFAE

For the first time since 2011, Duke Energy customers in North Carolina will see higher bills if state regulators approve a rate increase request filed this week.  

Michael Regan
N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

A federal appeals court has granted a request by the state Department of Environmental Quality to withdraw its legal challenge to former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. The move comes amid a changing of the guard in both Raleigh and Washington, where the Trump administration has said it plans to cancel the rules.

About 50 people from a dozen groups protested outside Duke's annual meeting in May 2016.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy is getting rid of in-person annual shareholder meetings. This year's meeting will be online only. Duke says it will save shareholders money and travel and reach more people. But Duke's critics don't like the idea.

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

Duke Energy this summer will ask North Carolina regulators to raise the rates consumers pay on their electricity bills for the first time in four years. The rate hikes – at Duke’s two electricity subsidiaries in the state - would help pay for new plants, Hurricane Matthew recovery costs and coal ash cleanups.

A loss on the sale of its international operations contributed to an overall loss of $227 million at Duke Energy for the last three months of 2016. Duke on Thursday also reported that its profit for all of 2016 was down about 24 percent, to $2.1 billion.

But after adjusting for one-time expenses, the report was in line with analysts' expectations. Duke’s shares closed the day up 2.7 percent. 

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