While Duke Power continues to insist that their plan for a new natural gas plant near Asheville plus miles and miles of invasive transmission lines is the only solution for western North Carolina’s energy needs, could there be an alternative? MountainTrue has had some early discussions with Brookfield Renewable, the company that owns several hydropower dams in Graham County and eastern Tennessee. While this is not necessarily an immediate solution to strengthening North Carolina’s energy infrastructure, why isn’t Duke Power even looking into alternatives like this?
Brookfield Renewable had this to say:
There are 380 MW of hydro power in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy Group that are not currently under contract and are available to Duke Energy for purchase to help meet the energy needs of this region. This significant renewable energy source should be part of Duke’s analysis as to whether their proposed gas plant and transmission lines are really needed. Duke should seek the meet the energy needs of this region first with existing renewable energy generated in our own region and then through additional investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy in order to minimize the community and environmental impacts of their proposed “modernization” plan.
Shouldn’t Duke Power at least look into the possibility of using these existing hydro power options? Are there more options that Duke hasn’t considered that would be less invasive and destructive to western North Carolina? This is why we need more hearings, more information, and more answers.