Last week the trickster was at work. The same day that my essay, “Our Survival’s at Stake,” was published in the [Nov. 4] Xpress, Duke Energy announced a revision in its WNC Modernization Project that I referenced in my essay. Duke will scale back the gas plants from 650 megawatts to 560 MW and consequently abandon the 45-mile Foothills Transmission Line and Campobello substation, stating that they are no longer necessary.
While I believe that Duke Energy can scale down the size of the gas plants even more substantially, I am grateful for their commitment to working with the wider community in WNC.
Duke’s press release states: “The revamped project will require significantly more participation in energy efficiency, demand-side management, renewable energy and developing technologies from the company, communities and customers in the region (italics mine).
Duke Energy has already committed to working in partnership with the city of Asheville to reduce its carbon footprint as outlined in a report from the city’s Sustainability Office titled Community Clean Energy Policy Framework, which was adopted by City Council recently.
I hope that the city and Duke Energy will open this process up to a larger WNC stakeholders process. There are many people and organizations that have expertise to work collaboratively with Duke Energy staff to achieve shared goals that are science-based, i.e. making the region’s electric energy sector 100 percent fossil-fuel-free by 2050, with an intermediate goal of 50 percent reduction of fossil fuels by 2030.
By working toward and achieving these goals, we can make natural gas truly a “bridge” fuel, while attracting modern, technologically sophisticated companies to North Carolina that could assist in building and supporting a sustainable green economy and full employment.
— Richard Fireman