Energy/Environment

Business
9:32 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Rooftop Solar Boosters Worry Boom Will End If Duke Gets Its Way

Vivian Lord's solar panels take up a small section of the roof, abate 75 percent of her household's utility bill.
Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE

Americans installed solar panels at their homes last year at a record pace, and backers of rooftop solar picture a not-too-distant future, where entire neighborhoods power themselves with the sun’s rays. For now, users and the industry rely on generous tax incentives and special agreements with electric utilities to reach affordability. Duke Energy wants to reduce how much it pays customers for the energy they produce. Rooftop solar advocates call it an attack on a burgeoning industry, while the utility says it is about cost.


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Local News
5:28 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Duke Ends Attempt To Buy Share Of SC Nuclear Plant

After two and a half years of negotiations, just when it looked like Duke Energy would buy a portion of a new nuclear plant in South Carolina, the company announced it has cut off negotiations.

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Science & Environment
10:22 am
Mon January 27, 2014

How Duke Will Sell Renewable Energy To Large Customers

Solar panels, Google Headquarters
Credit elwetritsche / Flickr

Duke Energy is in discussion with large companies, including Google and Facebook, to use renewable energy to power new electricity needs in North Carolina. Companies can pay a premium and Duke will pour energy of the companies’ choice—solar or wind, for instance—into the grid to match the amount of power used. The new program sailed through the state utilities commission last month, but some environmental organizations question its potential. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined Morning Edition host Kevin Kniestedt to explain.


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Science & Environment
12:19 pm
Sat January 18, 2014

NC Sues EPA Over Air Quality Standards

The EPA regulates particle pollution, which can be chemicals, acids, metals, soil and dust particles. Cars, refineries, factories and power plants all emit particulate matter.
Credit NCDOT

The state of North Carolina is suing the EPA. State environmental regulators are arguing that federal air quality standards are too stringent and should be loosened.


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Local News
9:29 am
Fri January 17, 2014

New Rule Allows Fracking Companies To Keep Certain Trade Secrets

A shale gas well in Pennsylvania.
Credit wcn247/flickr

North Carolina is clearing the way for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - the method of drilling that's created a natural gas boom in the United States. State lawmakers have tasked the state Mining and Energy Commission with developing rules to govern the process. Earlier this week the commission voted on what's often considered the "first rule" of fracking - it's called chemical disclosure and it determines what drilling companies have to tell the government about the fluids that get pumped into the ground during the process.

John Murawski is the Raleigh News and Observer's energy reporter. He's been following the commission's work, and he joined us by telephone.


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Science & Environment
5:00 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Factory Delays Push Back Construction At SC Nuclear Plant

The construction site at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, S.C. in August, 2013.
Credit South Carolina Office of Regulatory Service

Construction on some of the first nuclear plants in decades has suffered delays but is recovering ground, regulators of the project say.  The two new reactors at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, South Carolina will take more than six months longer than projected, at a potential cost of $200 million. The regulators blame a new building process for the delays, but do not rule out ratepayers covering the cost.

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Local News
2:53 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

North Carolina Ranks Second In New Solar Capacity In 2013

A new report shows North Carolina becoming a bigger player in the solar energy market. The firm NPD Solarbuzz says North Carolina created 400MW (megawatts) of new solar capacity. That’s enough to account for 10 percent of all new solar in the U.S. and Canada. Analyst Michael Barker says it’s a ramp up from previous years.

"One of the big findings was just how quickly the North Carolina market has grown in 2013," Barker says. "Climbing from the 5th largest U.S. market to the 2nd largest U.S. market."

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Local News
9:24 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Piedmont Deer To Be Relocated On Cherokee Reservation

A pair of white-tailed deer grazing from a tree.
Credit Raul654 / Wikimedia.org

Several dozen deer are about to swap the Piedmont for Cherokee reservation lands in western North Carolina.  At the request of the tribe, the state and federal government are helping to relocate the deer to grow that area’s deer population. 

               


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Local News
10:07 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Duke Asks Customers To Conserve During Chill

Credit Bryan Mills / Flickr

Duke Energy is urging customers to conserve energy during the cold because it’s worried that customers could cause blackouts or brownouts by using too much energy.

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Local News
3:56 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Utilities Commission Mulls Rate Dip To Offset Consumer Tax Hike

Duke Energy building in Charlotte.
Credit Duke Energy/Flickr

A utility sales tax hike in North Carolina is set to take effect in July.  That means your bill will go up.  But first the utilities commission must decide whether to help offset that increase by decreasing rates.  The state’s consumer advocate wants the commission to do that because taxes are going down for Duke Energy. 


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