In October of last year, City Council passed a resolution that [the city] would run on 100% renewable energy within 25 years. However, even city municipal buildings are estimated to receive only about 5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2042 (Cadmus Group Renewable Energy Roadmap, available online).
Duke Energy Progress, our utilities provider, is largely responsible for this disparity. Rather than invest in clean, safe energy production, Duke has spent almost a billion dollars on the expansion and construction of fossil fuel infrastructure in the last two years — in Buncombe County alone, $893 million was spent on the construction of a new natural gas plant, opening mid-December. Compare to the $60 million Duke has promised to spend on new solar and “utility” battery storage, and a small-scale solar farm (only 2 MW) in Madison County. (Battery storage is used primarily for storing electricity generated using fossils fuels in Duke’s current network.)
And before we hop aboard that high horse, yes, renewable energy infrastructure is much more expensive to build — it would likely cost closer to $1.5 billion to build the infrastructure to solarize Buncombe County, with tax breaks and incentives. But Duke has the capital to make that happen!
We have to make it clear to Duke that we mean business; they cannot be allowed to open up their new natural gas plant. Call up City Council and tell them this, then sign the petition going around for Community Roots’ Climate Bill of Rights, which gives the people of Asheville the right to choose our own utilities providers — and to sue those that continue to pollute our water and by burning fossil fuels; go to the climate strike planned for Dec. 6 in Pack Square to show solidarity with our young people; participate in the planned phone zap of City Hall on the 8th and tie up the mayor’s phone line for a day; join the rebellion. This is an emergency — we should act like it!
— David Saulsbury