North Carolina – Sign up to testify against Duke’s dirty carbon plan

We’ve told you before about Duke Energy’s weak-sauce plan to reduce global-warming pollution in the Carolinas.

The carbon plan is now on tour with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), a famously corrupt and ineffective regulator. Hearings have already happened in Asheville and Charlotte, and today is the deadline to RSVP for the virtual hearing (online) on April 23. Click here to reserve your spot, and check out this helpful guide from Clean Aire NC with more hearing dates and ways to comment.

For those who need a quick refresher: In 2022, Duke Energy finally released a draft plan to reduce global-warming carbon emissions in the Carolinas. Even getting them to unveil a plan was a big struggle, and required an act of the Legislature.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Duke’s carbon plan is a failure for our climate and communities. Local environmental and social justice organizations have found that Duke’s plan fails to meet 8 of the 12 criteria required by the law and we gave the plan a failing grade.

Despite all that (and despite our thousands of comments opposing the draft plan) the NCUC chose to approve Duke’s carbon plan. And since then, Duke has been on a fossil fuel building spree. Having gotten permission to build new gas fired power plants as part of the carbon plan, Duke and it’s corporate allies have been proposing new fossil fuel pipelines (four of them, and counting), new gas fired power plants, new gas storage facilities, and new and unusually dirty ways to source the gas (hog shit methane!).

The NCUC is touring the state to take public comment on how the carbon plan is doing (not great) and what North Carolinians think about it (nothing nice). With their typical brand of technical ineptitude and overt hostility to the public and ratepayers who pay their salaries, the NCUC has scheduled only one hearing online (all the rest you have to skip work or school and drive a long distance to get to) and they’re only allowing the first 20 people who RSVP to speak. They also botched the deadline, saying that you needed to sign up by Friday, April 16. Except that Friday is April 19, and today is Tuesday April 16. The hearing is on April 23, so we’re assuming they mean today, one week before the hearing. So sign up now! Even if you’re not one of the first 20 people allowed to speak, you can tune in to the hearing April 23 —sometimes they allow additional people to testify if there’s time, or if people who RSVPd don’t show up.

I’ll be honest, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that the NCUC can be reformed or lobbied effectively via public comment. But I do believe in what my friend Marla calls “malicious compliance” – the act of filing official comments in these kind of proceedings so that when we show up to protest, shut down the NCUC, or otherwise take disruptive, non-violent, direct action we can clearly explain why, and justify morally that our actions are “required” because as Malvina Reynolds sang “it isn’t nice … but the nice ways always fail.”

More to the point, if we’re going to stop Duke Energy’s monstrous, climate killing plan, we’re going to need a diversity of tactics. Some folks will sue in court, and some folks will run for office. But not everyone has the time, money, or special training to do some of those things. So we need tactics that everyone can do – and this is one (notwithstanding the 20 person testimony limit). In the next week we’ll also share some tips and ways that you can comment online without attending a hearing, and we’ll update you on our plan with BXE and other North Carolina advocates to intervene in Duke Energy’s fuel docket (which is a different way to get at the same idea – that Duke shouldn’t be allowed to build so much gas infrastructure (and buy the fossil fuel to feed it) using North Carolina ratepayers’ money.