Press release from Greenpeace, shared Feb. 15:

CHARLOTTE – This morning, six North Carolinians were arrested after building and ascending two 20-ft tall tripods in front of Duke Energy’s headquarters with a banner between them that read “Duke Energy: no dirty rate hikes” wearing t-shirts that said, “Be a good neighbor.”

“Duke Energy has gone too far with Charlotte ratepayers,” said Charlotte Organizer Monica Embrey, who was sitting at the base of the structure. “We won’t pay higher rates for more dirty energy. We’re asking for fair rates, renewable energy, and green jobs for North Carolina.”

All of the activists were from North Carolina and the protest took place outside the headquarters as Duke employees were arriving for work. North Carolinians are objecting to a recent 7.2% rate hike that will show up on their energy bills this March. The higher rates will go towards maintaining Duke’s dirty energy fleet rather than investing in clean renewable energy. Duke Energy has announced they’ll be pursuing another rate hike this year.

The protest follows yesterday’s announcement from Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford that the organization has opened a campaign against Duke Energy, and a dramatic protest on top of the 400-foot stack of Progress Energy’s Asheville coal plant earlier this week. Progress Energy and Duke Energy are in the process of a merger that will make them the largest utility in the United States. Earlier this month, Greenpeace flew an airship over Cincinnati with the message “Dump Duke.” In Cincinnati, residents are deciding whether to keep buying energy from Duke, or explore cleaner alternatives.

“In Charlotte, we know that Duke Energy has the potential to make significant investments in renewable energy and efficiency, and that effort should start here at home in North Carolina. It’s just part of being a good neighbor,” said Greenpeace spokesperson and Charlotte resident Beth Henry.

Duke Energy owns and operates coal plants throughout North Carolina, including several near Charlotte. At the nearby Riverbend coal plant, two of the plant’s coal ash impoundments have been rated as high hazards by the EPA, meaning that a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life. The plant is located on Mountain Island Lake, the source of Charlotte’s drinking water.

Charlotte residents are going to continue to send this message to Duke Energy this coming Saturday, February 18th as part of a day of action against dirty rate hikes. They are gathering at 1pm at Duke Energy’s headquarters.

Greenpeace is asking Duke to meet the following demands:

1) Not renew a single new contract for mountaintop removal coal.
2) Deliver at least a third of Duke’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
3) Quit coal altogether by 2030.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Wmforo. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at [email protected].

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