A Dark and Dirty Iceberg

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The Dan River coal ash spill, while the third largest in U.S. history, represents just the tip of a dark and dirty iceberg.

National media coverage from the L.A. Times to the Washington Post to the Rachel Maddow Show has pointed out the all too cozy relationship between Duke Energy, NC DENR, and Governor Pat McCrory. A Federal investigation into possible criminal charges and continued reports of illegal discharges from coal ash dumps has been a reminder that Duke Energy has its priorities wrong. And now a major shareholder revolt from some of the largest investors is calling for a separate investigation into the spill and even a vote against the re-election of four directors because they “have failed to fulfill their obligations of risk oversight as members of a committee overseeing health, safety, and environmental compliance at the company”.

The Dan River coal ash spill has reminded us that Duke has too many outdated, dirty coal plants threatening our air, water and public health. It has brought to greater public light the fact that decades of illegal coal ash pollution has taken a toll on all of us and our rivers, lakes and streams. It has brought together diverse groups of citizens pointing out that low-income communities have paid too high a price for Duke Energy’s coal ash waste, paying with contaminated drinking water and pollution.

For shareholders, customers and North Carolina residents, the next steps are clear. Duke must clean up toxic coal ash everywhere. Without real action, Duke’s legacy in NC will be covered in coal ash. Duke must set a clear plan to phase out more of its coal-fired power plants across the state, starting with the Asheville plant. Duke must support, not crush solar power – that means recognizing the value of solar and supporting small solar businesses in NC.
Customers should not be forced to foot the bill for Duke Energy’s coal ash problem. The company and its shareholders should have to pay the cost for decades of illegal pollution. All North Carolinians deserve real action from Duke Energy that doesn’t move the problem from one place to another. The best way to deal with coal ash long term is to phase out coal in North Carolina and lead the South with clean energy solutions.

It’s time to remind Duke Energy and the company’s shareholders that the nation’s largest utility company has failed us. It’s time to let our local and state elected officials, NC DENR, and the NC Utilities Commission know that we want to move beyond coal in North Carolina and shift boldly to solar power, wind energy and the full suite of clean energy solutions that create jobs while protecting our people, our health and our environment.

That’s why we need your voice and presence to be heard. Between now and the start of the 2014 Legislative Short Session, May14, we need in-district meetings with state elected officials calling for strong coal ash regulations. On April 30th we need you and clergy from across the state to come to Charlotte on the eve of the Duke Energy shareholder meeting in a Light the Path Forward gathering, a candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash. And we need your signs and voices to be heard at the May 1st Duke Shareholder meeting rally and press conference where hundreds of concerned citizens from across the Duke service area will gather.

North Carolina needs an energy company we can be proud of and shareholders need a company they can be proud of. Right now, Duke Energy fails on both counts. Join us as we work to move beyond coal in North Carolina and shift boldly to solar power, wind energy and the full suite of clean energy solutions that create jobs while protecting our people, our health and our environment.

Make plans to join us and invite your friends, neighbors, and clergy.

Light the path forward: Candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash
Wednesday, April 30th, the eve of the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting
7:30 to 8:30 PM
New Duke Energy Headquarters, 550 South Tryon St, Charlotte, NC
Facebook Event: Light the path forward
Clergy, Lay Leaders, and People of Faith – A Call to “Light the Path Forward”

Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting Rally and Press Conference
Thursday, May 1st
8:30 AM arrive and set up for 9:00 AM rally and press conference
Former Duke Energy headquarters, 526 South Church St, Charlotte, NC (location of shareholder meeting)
Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting – April 30 Candlelight Vigil, May 1 Rally


This Earth Day, go solar and save!

NC First in Solar Barn

This Earth Day, celebrate solar!

Join Solarize Charlotte!

Join Solarize Charlotte and get a free solar analysis for your home. 

44 years ago, millions of people across the US stood up to corporate polluters and apathetic leaders by organizing their communities to protect the environment — the first-ever Earth Day.

Today Earth Day continues to remind us that the solutions to environmental problems aren’t always in the hands of lawmakers. Environmental solutions can be in our cities, our neighborhoods, and our own homes.

That’s why we are so excited to tell you about Solarize Charlotte — a new grassroots program that will bring clean, renewable solar energy to homes in Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, and Gaston Counties.

Right now Solarize Charlotte is offering a free solar analysis to residents in the Charlotte area interested in installing solar panels on their homes.

Sign up for a free solar analysis with Solarize Charlotte now to learn how to power your home with the sun! Celebrate this Earth Day by bringing solar energy to your home.

Switching to solar power is a big, bold move. And Solarize Charlotte was started by a coalition of over 20 organizations — including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club — to make it as simple and affordable as possible.

The program connects homeowners with a lower-cost local North Carolina solar installer — simplifying the financing and installation process. It also uses group discounts and tax incentives to make rooftop solar even more affordable for anyone who wants to reduce their electricity bill and carbon footprint at the same time.

Solarize programs have already boosted solar energy usage and cut electricity bills in other North Carolina cities, including Durham, Asheville, and Carrboro. Now it’s time for Charlotte to shine.

Take a step towards a clean energy future in your own home by signing up for Solarize Charlotte today and receive a free solar analysis!

Earth Day reminds us that we still have plenty to do to protect our planet — including switching from dirty energy to clean, renewable energy sources.

And Solarize Charlotte is a big step in the right direction. Solar is good for everyone. So let’s get going and solarize!

Happy Earth Day,

Monica Embrey, Greenpeace Charlotte Field Organizer

Bill Gupton, Sierra Club Field Organizer

David Robinson, Group Chair, Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group

PS. Aren’t able to join Solarize right now, but still want to help Charlotte go solar? Spread the word by liking Solarize Charlotte on Facebook and forwarding this email to family and friends!

Solarize Charlotte Launches, Offering Discounts and Ease for Rooftop Solar Energy

Solarize Charlotte SingleFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact:

Bill Gupton – 704.367.0068 or Luis Rodriguez -704.526.8125

Solarize Charlotte Launches, Offering Discounts and Ease for Rooftop Solar Energy

April 21, 2014 – The Cleaner is Cheaper coalition has announced that Earth Day will mark the launch of Solarize Charlotte, a non-profit effort to make rooftop solar systems as easy and affordable as possible for Charlotte area residents. The three month program, which is being supported by over 20 community, faith and grassroot groups, will offer group discounts and help participants with tax incentives and low interest loans to ensure that anyone who wants to lower their electricity bill and carbon footprint will be able to with their own rooftop solar energy system.

“We’re extremely pleased to be able to support the Solarize Charlotte program and the opportunity it presents to educate and engage the greater Charlotte community in solar energy and energy efficiency,” said Bill Gupton of the Sierra Club. “As affordable and clean solar energy grows, we’ll create hundreds of new jobs and help to clean up our air, water, and land. Solarize Charlotte is definitely an idea whose time has come.”

Solarize Charlotte, which will run until July 31st,  is working closely with RED Group, a certified, local solar company that specializes in residential and small commercial solar installations. The business will offer free home solar assessments to interested residents and a group discount to everyone who chooses to participate in the program. Between the group discount and tax incentives, participants will get up to 75% off the market price for their home solar system.

“Solar energy is a great way to invest in your home and your future by permanently reducing your electricity bill and using energy that doesn’t pollute our air or water,” said Cynthia Redwine, owner of RED Group. “North Carolina has huge potential for solar energy and we’re thrilled to help Charlotte residents tap into that potential with Solarize Charlotte.”

Solarize programs, endorsed by the Department of Energy, have been run across the country for the last five years, bringing solar energy to thousands of new customers. Solarize Charlotte will provide participants with solar panels manufactured in the United States in order to boost both local and national solar markets.

“The Solarize program is a winning strategy to boost local industry, get North Carolinians back to work, and provide clean, safe power to low-income communities and working families struggling in these tough economic times,” said Luis Rodriguez of Action NC. “The sun has, and always will be, our greatest energy source and this is a way to tap into that tremendous wealth.  Action NC works in low-income communities, with everyday North Carolinians who need this program now, not twenty years from now.  We are proud to stand with the Cleaner is Cheaper Coalition and support the effort to Solarize.”


For more infoon Solarize Charlotte visit cleanerischeaper.com

For more info on RED Group visit http://redgroupnc.com/


Bill Gupton, 704-367-0068, billgupton1@gmail.com or

Luis Rodriguez, 704-526-8125, luis@actionnc.org

The full list of supporting groups includes
Action NC, Appalachian Voices, Carolina Climate Action, Center for Community Change, Clean Air Carolina, Earthkeepers – Myers Park Baptist Church, Environment North Carolina, Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, NAACP, NC Conservation Network, NC Green Building Council, NC Interfaith Power & Light, NC League of Conservation Voters, NC WARN, SACE, SHIFT, Sierra Club, Sustain Charlotte, Temple Beth El.


Solarize Charlotte Press Conference Comments

Good morning. My name is Bill Gupton and I’m currently the Charlotte field organizer with the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club is extremely pleased to be a part of the growing list of organizations, institutions, and individuals committed to growing solar energy in the greater Charlotte Mecklenburg area. The success of the Solarize program in communities across the United States demonstrates that this is an idea whose time has come.

We know that solar energy offers a wide range of benefits over traditional fuel sources.

First, generating electricity from renewable energy rather than fossil fuels offers significant public health benefits. The air and water pollution emitted by coal and natural gas plants is linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has been found to reduce premature mortality and lost workdays, and it reduces overall healthcare costs. In addition, wind and solar energy require essentially no water to operate and thus do not pollute water resources or strain supply by competing with agriculture, drinking water systems, or other important water needs. Solarize Charlotte homeowners will be doing their part to help clean up air our and conserve our water.

Secondly, compared with fossil fuel technologies, which are typically mechanized and capital intensive, the renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive. This means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. Renewable energy projects therefore keep money circulating within the local economy, and renewable electricity production would reduce the need to spend money on importing coal and natural gas from other places. Solarize Charlotte homeowners will be supporting local jobs and our North Carolina economy.

Thirdly, electricity production accounts for more than one-third of U.S. global warming emissions, with the majority generated by coal-fired power plants, which produce approximately 25 percent of total U.S. global warming emissions; natural gas-fired power plants produce 6 percent of total emissions. In contrast, most renewable energy sources produce little to no global warming emissions. Solarize Charlotte homeowners can take pride in being a part of the shift from energy sources that contribute to climate disruption.

Finally, renewable energy is providing affordable electricity across the country right now, and can help stabilize energy prices in the future. The costs of renewable energy technologies have declined steadily, and are projected to drop even more. For example, the average price of a solar panel has dropped almost 60 percent since 2011. Solarize Charlotte homeowners will be able to take advantage of group purchasing discounts, tax credits, and other incentives to reduce their monthly electricity costs while adding value to their property.

Most importantly, Solarize Charlotte is an opportunity for Charlotte area citizens to become part of the clean energy revolution. Sierra Club members and supporters will be joining other volunteers to reach out to neighborhood associations, church and civic groups, and other organizations to explain the installation process, the costs and tax considerations, and other factors to make the decision to install a solar system as easy as possible.

We hope that Solarize Charlotte will serve as a model for other cities in North Carolina and communities across the southeast to develop their own programs. We know that that the success of Solarize Charlotte will demonstrate that clean, affordable, roof-top residential solar energy is indeed an idea whose time is now!

Thank you.

Sources for solar benefits from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Become a Solarize Charlotte Champion – April 24th Training

Solarize Charlotte Single

I would like to invite Sierra Club members and supporters to a training next Thursday, April 24th from 6:30-8:00pm in the Greenpeace office (E 15th St and N Davidson). Our focus in the training will be preparing Solarize Charlotte Champions to do presentations and tabling for groups and events. You do not have to expert skills or knowledge about solar energy , just a passion for growing solar energy in Charlotte! We’ll make sure that you have the facts and skills that you need.

If you have connections to neighborhood associations, religious, social, or community groups, then I’d encourage you to start reaching out to them about hosting a short presentation for Solarize Charlotte during their regular meeting times for May, June, or July.

I am honored to be working with such a dedicated and passionate group of people to increase access to solar power in North Carolina.

For Solar,

Hanna Mitchell

Solar Project Assistant

PS. Our Solarize Charlotte website is LIVE at www.cleanerischeaper.com


April 23 – Monthly Meeting – Kayaking in Florida

Two Local Guys Kayak Adventure Around Florida: Join the Central Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club Wednesday April 23rd to hear the tale. Marc Delucca and Jim Windle pushed their kayaks into the Gulf of Mexico in November 2013. They completed their final takeout on the Atlantic coast near the Georgia Florida border in March of 2014. Marc and Jim’s route, The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Trail, covered over 1500 miles, included various National Parks and seashores, and had them experience many types of wildlife. Come and meet these modern explorers. Free pizza is served at 6:30 pm and the program begins at 7:00 pm at the Mahlon Adams Pavilion in Freedom Park.

Tell us what you think

Sierra Club

Dear Sierra Club members and supporters,

I’m so grateful to you for becoming one of our newest supporters. People like you are the heart and soul of the environmental movement — and our ability to protect the animals and places that are close to our hearts depends on harnessing your ideas and passion.

Brune Survey

Are you passionate about a particular issue affecting our planet? What strategies do you think will bring the most success in our fight?

Please take a moment to let us know what you care most about by taking our short survey. Your answers will help us chart a course for the coming years.

Endangered wildlife and wild places are constantly under threat from things like oil and gas drilling and the effects of climate disruption. We have so far to go to ensure we can stop the catastrophic destruction of our environment.

The coming months and years will present big challenges — and we must be ready to meet them.

It’s because of people like you that we are able to use the strength of our 2 million plus grassroots supporters to reach major milestones for the environment, like winning protections from dangerous air pollution, retiring over 100 dirty coal plants, and protecting treasured wild places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite as national parks.

Your opinions mean a lot. Take our short, five-question survey today and help us plan for the coming years.

Thank you again for taking this important first step to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the planet with the Sierra Club.

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

Click here to take our survey

Lobbying for a Coal Ash Clean-Up Bill

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Thank for you taking action to hold Duke accountable for their massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. And now our legislators need to follow through to make sure nothing like this ever happens again in North Carolina.

We have the momentum on our side– but your legislators need to hear from their constituents. That’s where you come in.

With just 27 days until the start of the legislative session on May 14, now is the best time to meet with legislators at home in their districts. The message is clear: the North Carolina General Assembly needs to make sure Duke Energy cleans up its waste at the three dozen unlined wet coal ash pits across the state, all of which threaten local water resources.

The NC Chapter recently held two webinars to give folks the training and the tools to effectively advocate and educate your legislators on coal ash. While it’s clearly not the same, you can gain a great deal of information, insight, and tools to become a better advocate.

With 170 legislators to meet with, it’s time to get started securing support from your legislators for meaningful action when the legislature reconvenes in May!

For additional information, contact Zak Keith, zak.keith@sierraclub.org, or Cassie Gavin, cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org.


  • Why Become a Volunteer Lobbyist?
  • Why Legislative Action is Needed Now?
  • Background on NC Coal Ash
    • The Dan River Spill
    • Facts About Coal Ash in North Carolina
  • Lobbying 101
    • Tips, the Ask, Materials
    • Importance of Reporting
  • Update on Status of Any Coal Ash Legislation

Click below to review the PowerPoint presentation

Lobbying Coal Ash BillSierra Club NC Chapter Coal Ash Webinar