BIG EXPENSES: Duke is building two natural gas-fueled electric generating units at Lake Julian south of Asheville to replace its existing coal plant. Duke estimates that project will have an $890 million price tag and the cost to close coal ash basins there will be about $422 million. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Regulators approve lower-than-requested Duke Energy rate increase, impose coal ash penalty

The N.C. Utilities Commission today approved a rate increase requested by Duke Energy Progress. As approved, Duke may charge an average increase of 7.09 percent. The electricity provider also received permission to increase the basic monthly customer charge for residential customers from $11.13 to $14.

PARKING ROW: The Asheville Foundry Inn property backs up to the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church parking lot, where the hotel leases 75 spaces. Photo by Leslie Boyd

Mt. Zion must wait to build new education facility

Relations between Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and its new neighbor, Asheville Foundry Inn, have been strained since construction began on the inn two years ago. A judge has now issued a temporary injunction to block the church from commencing construction on a new education building and parking lot improvements, which the hotel says would deprive it of the use of 75 parking spaces it is leasing from the church.

PARKWAY PRESERVATION: A total of 5,329 acres in the area of Waterrock Knob will be conserved, the largest addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 60 years.  Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service

Waterrock Knob expansion brings together stakeholde­rs, public

The highest peak in the Plott Balsam Mountains, Waterrock Knob encompasses a unique ecosystem. The Blue Ridge Parkway will now conserve 5,329 acres of this irreplaceable landscape thanks to recent land and financial gifts by a network of conservation groups and private donors. The public is invited to weigh in on plans for the area through Feb. 25.

SECOND OPINION: Larry Johnson, with microphone, of Flat Rock asks a question after Monday's late showing of 'Fix It: Health Care at the Tipping Point.'  Photo by Sammy Feldblum

Health care documentar­y in Flat Rock looks to heal a broken system

Dr. Marsha Fretwell addressed a crowd of 25 in blunt terms Monday in Flat Rock: “We need to get for-profit health insurance out of the marketplace.” Fretwell, a former geriatric physician and a member of Healthcare for All Western North Carolina, crystallized the thesis of the documentary Fix It: Health Care at the Tipping Point, which had […]