Greenpeace activists return to Progress plant with two-day blimp protest

After a large-scale protest in February that resulted in several trespassing charges, Greenpeace activists returned to Arden’s Progress Energy plant on Lake Julian this morning, hovering over the coal-fired structure in a large blimp.  Hoping to draw attention to what they say are unclean practices by Duke Power, the owner of the Progress plant, the activists stretched banners over the blimp.  Difficult to make-out from the ground, the banners read “Cleaner is Cheaper,” and “Duke: Don’t Raise Rates for Dirty Energy,” according to a Greenpeace press release (entire text of release follows photos).

The activists plan to return tomorrow morning to make another pass around the plant. 

Greenpeace press release:

Greenpeace to Fly Thermal Airship By Duke Owned Asheville Plant

On July 30th and 31st at 7am Greenpeace will attempt to fly their 135 foot thermal airship, the A.E. Bates, by the Asheville Plant, owned by Duke Energy.  The flight comes only five months after 16 Greenpeace activists were arrested for a demonstration at the plant calling attention to the public health and climate impacts of the company’s continued use of mountaintop removal coal and high hazard coal ash impoundments.

The unique airship will be carrying banners reading “Duke: Don’t Raise Rates for Dirty Energy” and “Cleaner is Cheaper.” The flight is to raise awareness about Duke Energy’s plan to continue to burn coal at this other plants across the Carolinas despite the many renewable energy alternatives.

This will be the 6th flight in a statewide airship tour.  The airship has already flown over Raleigh, Wilmington, Carrboro, and past the Marshall Steam Station, also owned by Duke. The tour is part of Greenpeace’s ongoing campaign to push the country’s largest utility toward a renewable energy future that is healthier and cheaper for residents across the Carolinas.

Earlier this week Greenpeace released “Charting the Correction Course: A Clean Energy Pathway for Duke Energy.” Using modeling performed by Ventyx, an energy consultancy, the report details how Duke Energy can save their customers $108 Billion over 20 years by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

Who: Greenpeace

What: Thermal airship flight past the Asheville coal plant

When: July 30th – 7am, July 31st – 7am

Where: Taking off and landing for Monday’s flight at the Asheville regional airport at 240 Wright Brothers Way. Tuesday’s flight location still being decided.  Note: media will not be able to come into the take off area of the Asheville airport, but the field is easily visible from the road here: contact Myriam Fallon upon arrival and a Greenpeace representative will be able to come out to speak with anyone and answer questions.

Visuals: 135 foot thermal airship taking off and landing with giant banners targeting Duke. Airship flying by the Duke owned Asheville Plant

Interviews: Licensed airship pilots, Greenpeace Coal Campaigner Robert Gardner, Senior Analyst and report author Mike Johnson (by phone)

Important: Please note that the airship is very weather sensitive. Safety is always our number one concern when flying; because of this all flight attempts, launch times and flight paths are weather dependent. Contact Myriam Fallon at 708.546.9001 at any time for updates and information about flight attempts.


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