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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Greens Push State for Duke Energy Climate Inquiry

(CN) - North Carolina environmental advocacy group NC WARN and six other nonprofit organizations filed a seldom used emergency complaint Wednesday, petitioning NC Attorney General Roy Cooper for an investigation of Duke Energy's alleged contribution to global warming.

NC WARN has been a consistent critic of Duke Energy, the country's biggest electric utility, which pleaded guilty to nine violations of the federal Clean Water Act and was ordered to pay $102 million in fines and restitution earlier this year. Just last week, Duke reached a $7 million settlement agreement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for 2014's Dan River coal ash spill.

The complaint and attachment total 78 pages and contend that Duke Energy has violated its corporate charter through criminal activity and it emits more carbon dioxide greenhouse gases than any other national electric utility. The groups claims Duke has mislead the public by continuously citing its closure of rarely used coal-fired power plants, yet replacing them with new coal and natural gas plants that cause even more pollution.

The complaint specifically calls for Duke to phase out all coal-fired units at its seven plants in North Carolina in the next five years, to stop monopolizing service areas and to cease "making political contributions, backroom deals and other efforts to assert influence over the political process in North Carolina."

It cites a state law that gives the attorney general authority to alter or dissolve a corporation of its charter if it abuses public authority. Organizing Director of NC WARN Connie Leeper said, "Mr. Cooper has shown courage in standing against several Duke Energy rate increases that were unjust. We urge him to use this opportunity to provide unprecedented leadership to slow climate change before it spins entirely out of human control."

However, , spokeswoman for Duke Energy called the complaint a nuisance and said it was "the latest in a string of merit-less allegations and gimmicks by NC WARN that are consistently rejected by regulators and an informed public."

NC Warn announced that it plans a television ad campaign to combat Duke Energy's alleged wrongdoings.

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