Duke Shareholder events – a big success!

Sierra Club and our allies delivered an impactful message to Duke to remove its toxic coal ash from unlined pits beside our waterways and retire coal plants. We put our Waterkeeper and faith allies out front, and with an ad buy, lobbying of Duke execs before and after the shareholder meeting, press work, social media, and asking questions during their big meeting, we established ourselves undeniable force to be reckoned with and are in an stronger place for getting solutions on coal ash and coal retirements because of this work.

Members of the Central Piedmont, Foothills, WNC, Cape Fear, and Capital groups participated (and maybe others?) and helped make this event a success! Thank you! Big thanks to Bill Gupton for his leadership role.

A few highlights:

• We launched new ad on coal ash with a huge cable TV buy, coupled with a second ad running in Asheville calling for the plant retirement

• Digital strategies deployed a Thunderclap where our message on #DukeCoalAsh was on the social media feeds of 300 people, reaching 300,000K+

• Rev. Steve Runholt delivered the publicly delivered a letter to the CEO signed by 70 clergy in WNC calling for the retirement of the AVL coal plant due to the moral obligation to act on climate change

• We personally invited the executive leadership to a classy screening of the Years of Living Dangerously episode in charlotte next week with small, sharp paper invites and thereby letting them know that Beyond Coal will be featured on national TV next week with their Asheville, NC plant front and center. (We sent earlier mail invites, and after the meeting they were all looked at, one corporate communication staffer viewed the invite 49 times yesterday!)

• A team of educated, prepared staff and allies that had 10 minute conversations with Duke executives about the Asheville plant, the Allen coal plant, energy efficiency in Florida, and renewable energy. we got a great deal of intel this way that we will take back to our legal team and demonstrated our knowledge, rigor, and understanding of the leverage points.

• The Riverkeepers politely took the CEO to task with pointed questions about coal ash. Donna Lisenby, the coal director for Waterkeeper alliance got a handshake agreement from the CEO to take input on the coal ash cleanup plan– the wall street journal reported on it, so did tons of other outlets and it was a memorable moment.

• In response to my question during the formal Q&A, CEO Lynn Good said from the stage that they are considering the closure of the Asheville plant.

• Nathan Cummings, CAL PIRS, and the SEIU all spoke on proposals to withhold support for board members on the regulatory oversight committee and to require the disclosure of political spending. together they own 3.9 million shares.

• We secured dozens of media hits, here are two favorites: New Ads Hit the Airwaves and Letter from WNC pastors urges Duke to stop coal pollution

Our allies organized a demonstration outside of the meeting, including a 10 foot octopus that illustrated the way that Duke Energy has its tentacles in the utilities commission, the legislature, and politics.
The weather forecast for tornadoes and thunderstorms forced us to cancel the candlelight vigil planned for the night before– a big disappointment, especially for the organizing team that had put countless hours into planning the event.

I’m inspired and grateful for the awesome NC Beyond coal team that pulled this all together and by all of the Sierra Clubbers that participated! You rock.

Kelly Martin
Senior Campaign Representative
Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club


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(Photo: Davis Turner)

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Photos above: Sierra Club and partner groups put pressure on Duke Energy to clean up its toxic coal ash; a new Sierra Club ad for TV asking Duke Energy to move beyond coal.

As Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good prepares for her first shareholder meeting, the Sierra Club and partner groups in North Carolina launched a multi-city ad buy to keep the pressure on the company to clean up its toxic coal ash legacy. The ads, featuring video footage of the Dan River coal ash spill, aired in Charlotte and in Asheville before, during and following the shareholder meeting on May 1. The campaign to retire Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant will be featured in this week’s episode of SHOWTIME’s Years of Living Dangerously documentary series on climate change, drawing national attention to the utility. In addition, during Thursday’s meeting, two pastors delivered a letter signed by seventy-two clergy in Western North Carolina calling on Duke Energy to move beyond coal.

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