Duke Energy’s Proposed Cliffside Power Plant will mean another 40 years of Coal Dependence for WNC

Duke Energy, one of the largest electric utilities providers in the nation, is also the third largest user of pulverized coal technology that does not allow for the control of carbon dioxide or mercury emissions. After the release of films like Al Gore’s “An Inconvienent Truth” seems to have woken the public up to the fact that we are responsible for the condition of our environment. The term, “Carbon Footprint” seems to have become a buzzword for the green movement. For those of us who don’t know, a “Carbon Footprint” refers to the amount of Carbon Dioxide that a person is responsible for generating. In the interest of making people aware of their carbon footprint and it’s affect on the environment, Radiohead have commissioned a report from Oxford based company, Best Foot Forward. The report showed that “Fan Travel and Consumption” was responsible for 97% of the carbon emissions created during the “Hail to the Thief” tour in 2003. Radiohead have added a CO2 calculator to their website. The idea is that fans who plan on attending a Radiohead show during the “In Rainbows” tour can input their method of travel and where they are traveling from and figure out which method of travel will generate the smallest amount of CO2. Apparently, driving a Honda Civic Hybrid from Cullowhee to Charlotte and back generates 38 kilograms of CO2. For those of us who aren’t metrically inclined, 38 kg translates to about 84 pounds of carbon dioxide. However, the real problem in tackling CO2 emissions doesn’t lie completely with the consumer. Duke Energy plans to build a new 800 megawatt convention coal-fired power plant at Cliffside, NC (about 50 miles west of Charlotte). According to Avram Friedman of the Canary Coalition the construction of this plant would, “commit Western North Carolina to at least forty years of coal dependence. To give some perspective, Friedman says, “If every household in North Carolina changed a 60-watt incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent, the CO2 emissions from the proposed Cliffside plant would, within 16 days of operation, negate this entire effort.” There are cleaner more efficient ways to generate electricity. Sadly, it would be very hard for corporations like Duke to make money off eco-friendly ideas like Wind and Solar Power. According to the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE), Wind Power preserves land and protects our Air, Water, and other natural resources. The means for generating Wind Power would be owned locally. Local ownership of the means of production means that big companies like Duke Energy wouldn’t be able to take money out of our Local Economy. Local Businesses, Farmers, Municipal Utilities, even Individuals can buy stock in Community Owned Wind Power. AIRE says, ” Community Owned Wind is a model for energy production in which communities take responsibility for their energy needs while securing their collective economic, social, and environmental future. According to Ben Yoke of Sundance Power Systems, “Solar Power can be harnessed and used to heat your home and provide your family with electricity.” Solar Power can provide the same services we enjoy under our current system and more. Ideally, each house would be fitted with a device for capturing the Sun’s energy. The amount of energy we can glean from the sun is astounding. Most Solar Collectors can generate more energy than an individual household would need. Excess energy can be fed back to ‘the grid’ where it is free to be used by the community at large. Not only would this mean an end to power bills, but each house that is fitted with a solar collector would be paid for the excess energy they generate. All the money that citizens pay to Duke for power from Coal Burning plants that choke the air with carbon and poisons the water with deadly mercury would instead be given to average people who had the foresight to fit their houses with solar collection devices. The Green Movement seems to be picking up steam. People are waking up to the fact that it is entirely possible to fix the damage done to the planet by humans since the industrial revolution. This generation has the chance to go down in history as the generation who, when faced with the destruction of the natural world, stood up and said “Not on my dime, Buddy. We won’t stand idle while companies like Halliburtion, Duke, and Enron rape our world for profit.” This generation has the chance to make a difference. What are you going to do?