It’s time for King Coal to retire. Since the Industrial Revolution, coal has been in large-scale use for energy production and polluting our health and our planet. All the information and technology we need to retire coal burning in North Carolina exists. Now we need political and corporate leadership, investments and a plan.
North Carolina burns a lot of coal, but Duke and Progress, who are about to merge, are proposing to phase-out nearly 20 coal burners between this fall and 2015 – totaling over 1200 megawatts of electricity. Duke is building two new gas plants in North Carolina to replace this power, which should bridge the gap while wind and other renewable energy projects are being built.
Meanwhile, a recent draft of federal mapping of off-shore wind potential shows North Carolina to have among the best potential on the east coast, over 3000 square miles worth that could total 50,000 megawatts of electricity. While we’ll need no where near that wattage in the foreseeable future, offshore wind energy farms can take years to site, so we need to start now – to make sure King Coal can retire.
In the General Assembly, S747  is one of our best bets for clean energy – requiring utilities to make long-term contracts for 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind to be built over a period of seven to ten years. The first off-shore project would have to start producing power by Dec. 31, 2017. If enacted this bill could not only ensure coal burners shut down but also make Duke’s dream for more nuclear power fade fast – as it should, given the cost and dangers associated with this technology.
We have choices for our children’s energy future – a wind farm in the horizon when they are relaxing at the beach or a coal plant spewing pollution into their lungs and their water. Which would you choose?