by John Grooms
If Mayor Foxx doesnt want to be seen as a shill for Duke Energy, he needs to get his facts straight. Foxx was in D.C. yesterday, along with some other mayors, to promote President Obamas energy policy. At one point, a reporter asked Foxx about Duke Energy, and the mayor delivered a very good facsimile of the current Duke green spiel.
Duke Energy, said Foxx, has been "outspoken" about the importance of using renewable domestic energy sources like wind and solar power. That part of Foxxs reply was true: Duke has indeed been outspoken about wind and solar, no matter how piddling their steps toward those energy sources have been. The problem is with Foxxs follow-up about Duke: "And they're vigorously working to incorporate those types of sources in what they use to generate energy." Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but No. No, theyre not. Being outspoken is one thing, but follow-through is what counts, and thats where Duke Energys green image falls apart.
As we reported in last weeks column, The Wizard of Green, Duke Energy execs, including honcho Jim Rogers, recently let the cat out of the bag when they testified before the N.C. Utilities Commission. Duke revealed that it plans to build more than 7,000 megawatts in new nuclear, coal and gas generation by 2030, but only plans 56 megawatts of solar, and practically no new wind power. Rogers went so far as to say twice that "North Carolina doesn't have any wind [energy potential]," despite authoritative studies showing that N.C. leads the East Coast in wind power capacity. (Duke Energy has spent $1.7 billion buying existing wind farms, primarily in western states with competitive power markets.)
So, no, Mayor Foxx. Duke Energy is not vigorously working to incorporate green energy alternatives, unless by vigorously working you mean hardly working. What it actually does is to be outspoken about how great wind and solar are, and then turn around and wink to its friends in the nuclear power industry. Mr. Mayor, if you need to be buds with Rogers and Duke Energy, I understand thats the reality of running a corporate-heavy city. But for crying out loud, dont lie for them. What are you now Pat McCrory?