Duke Energy dispenses with civil discourse

Guest Blog | April 8, 2009 | Energy Policy, Nuclear

Unfortunately, rude remarks and ad hominem attacks are not new to public discourse.  They tend to emerge in the absence of facts, yet childish remarks and name-calling do nothing to advance the debate about our nation’s energy future.

Offshore wind can help repower the Southeast.
Offshore wind can help repower the Southeast.

In an April 2 edition of ClimateWire (a publication of E&E Publishing), Duke Energy Corporation spokesman Tom Williams hurled an expletive at SACE executive director, Stephen Smith, over assertions about how utilities in our region seek to address climate change: “Most of the utilities in the Southeast tend to only want to address climate change through nuclear power,”Smith said.

“Those types of assertions rankle some people in the industry. Smith stands out as a rowdy nuisance to Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke Energy Corp. ‘He is a lying son of a bitch,’ Williams said.”       Download the original article from ClimateWire here.

Less than a week later, however, Duke Energy’s CEO confirms Dr. Smith’s point in the Charlotte Observer:

“But capping limits on carbon dioxide, which is emitted by Duke’s coal-fired plants, is expected to heavily cost utilities. Duke, meanwhile, says it needs to build more power plants to keep up with growing electricity demand.

“‘The only way we could do it is with nuclear,’ Rogers said at Monday’s Charlotte Energy Summit. ‘The higher the price (for carbon) goes, the stronger the case for nuclear.'”

The inflammatory quote about SACE’s executive director was pulled after a few hours, but it says something about the importance of our current energy debate when a small, conservation non-profit relies on sound analysis and solid data to advance an argument while a multi-million dollar utility must cast aspersions in order to defend a position.

For more than two decades, SACE has engaged both allies and critics in an effort to unleash the Southeast’s clean, renewable energy potential.  Throughout this time, our organization has always accepted differences of opinion and entertained critical points of view.  Our nation can’t achieve the energy solutions we need without debating issues rationally, and it is disappointing that a utility that millions in the Carolinas rely on for electricity has officially dispensed with civil discourse.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy knows that our region has plenty of renewable energy resources that will create new jobs and put our economy on the path to recovery.  In fact, just this week, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said that the Atlantic Coast’s offshore wind potential could supply the equivalent of 3,000 medium-sized coal plants – enough to power much of the East Coast of the United States.

SACE hopes that Duke Energy will put name-calling aside and participate in a fruitful dialogue about our region’s renewable energy potential.

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