Mayor Foxx sells Duke Energy's 'green' myths

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If Mayor Foxx doesn’t 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 Obama’s 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 Foxx’s 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 Foxx’s 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, they’re not. Being “outspoken” is one thing, but follow-through is what counts, and that’s where Duke Energy’s “green” image falls apart.

As we reported in last week’s 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 — that’s the reality of running a corporate-heavy city. But for crying out loud, don’t lie for them. What are you now — Pat McCrory?

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