Energy & Environment

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

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Crowd-Sourced Weather Program Provides 'Hyper-Local' Data

Mar 30, 2015
Henry Reges/ CoCoRaHS

There’s a network in the U.S. of thousands of volunteers who put a rain gauge in their yards and report the readings online every day---rain or shine.

This group’s mission is to provide hyper-local weather data to meteorologists, farmers, emergency managers and other government agencies. It’s called CoCoRaHS (pronounced ko-ko-RAZ). The name may sound more appropriate for a chocolatey breakfast cereal, but it stands for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. 

WFAE's Duncan McFadyen spoke to the state director of CoCoRaHS, David Glenn. He's a meteriologist for the National Weather Service in Newport, in the eastern part of North Carolina.


Lucy Perkins / WFAE

A new energy project in Charlotte will use food scraps to power 3,000 homes in the Charlotte area. A Nevada company called Bluesphere will convert organic waste into electricity. 

Think banana peels. That’s basically what organic waste is, along with other food we throw out. The bio-gas plant will take the leftovers we don’t use, and accelerate the fermentation process.

"What happens normally in six months we concentrate in 30 days," says Alex Massone, the CEO of Austep -- an Italian company behind the technology.

Alexia Gyorody / WFAE

The commission overseeing North Carolina’s clean-up of coal ash around the state has canceled its upcoming meeting, because of a court decision that has called the group’s legitimacy into question.


State Charges Duke Energy Record Fine Over Coal Ash

Mar 11, 2015
Duke Energy

North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued the largest fine in its history, against Duke Energy. The agency fined Duke $25 million for pollution from coal ash at its Sutton Lake coal plant, near Wilmington.


Charlotte Storm Water Problems Outpace Fixes, Budget

Feb 11, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Just south of Morehead Street in Dilworth, construction crews work in an enormous hole, 30-feet wide and 30-feet deep. Wood slats and metal bands support the walls, like the inside of the world’s largest wine barrel. A pump sucks a pool of storm water out of the bottom. Cranes and dump trucks surround the hole, while a small machine tunnels at the bottom, moving forward about four feet per day.

REC Solar

Duke Energy has expanded its investment in solar energy, and will enter a new facet of the industry: solar panels on the roofs of businesses.


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The Obama administration has released its latest plan for oil and gas drilling off-shore the United States. It excludes restricts Alaska, but opens up parts of the Atlantic Ocean, including off the coast of North Carolina.


While North Carolina is ramping up to close coal ash ponds around the state, removal is already underway in South Carolina, and—at one site—ahead of schedule.

South Carolina electric utility Santee Cooper entered a settlement with environmental groups in 2013, to get its coal ash—which can contain arsenic and lead—out of storage ponds near public waters.

Lower-income customers of Duke Energy in North Carolina can now apply for energy-saving upgrades to their homes. A $20 million program funded by Duke Energy opened this week, the result of a deal Duke agreed to when it last raised rates.


Strata Solar

North Carolina energy regulators quietly released one of their most significant, long-awaited decisions of 2014, just as the year was ending. The state Utilities Commission had spent nearly the entire year re-evaluating the rules for solar energy. On Wednesday, the commission decided to leave substantially intact the rules which have underlied a solar energy boom in North Carolina.

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