WENOCA News

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UPDATE ON DUKE’S PLANS FOR COAL ASH IN ASHEVILLE

From: Walls, Jason A [mailto:Jason.Walls@duke-energy.com] 


Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2014 6:05 PM


To: Walls, Jason A


Subject: Coal Ash Update – Asheville Plant

Lynn Good, Duke Energy’s CEO sent a letter to North Carolina’s Governor, Pat McCrory that outlines Duke Energy’s coal ash management strategy across North Carolina, including the Asheville Plant. The letter is attached.

Since 1964, the Asheville Plant has provided reliable electricity for this growing region, while providing more than 100 jobs and $2.8 million annually in local taxes. 

It’s our obligation alone to keep the lights on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we have a state-mandated responsibility to provide reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost and using proven technology. Low cost and high reliability are foremost with our customers.

Over the last decade, the company has invested more than $300 million in environmental upgrades at the Asheville Plant and it was the first in NC to have advanced flue-gas desulfurization, or scrubbers. As a result, the Asheville Plant is well positioned for expected federal environmental regulations.

In the letter, we outline two paths forward for the Asheville Plant. The company will convert the Asheville Plant to handle fly ash dry – moving away from storing wet fly ash in onsite ponds. Alternatively, we could retire the Asheville Plant. Dry ash conversion work, if selected, will be completed within 30-36 months of receiving permits.

We can’t retire a plant without a practical, proven way to replace the electricity that residents and businesses depend on. Today, that doesn’t exist, but it is an option being considered.

We will continue to partner with the Asheville Regional Airport to beneficially reuse ash as a fill material to expand the airport’s taxiway. Once complete in 2015, four million tons of ash will be moved offsite and placed into a state-of-the-art lined and encapsulated area at the airport. All of the ash being currently generated at the station is being collected, dried and hauled to the airport for the taxiway expansion project. We continue to look for ash reuse opportunities where such uses remain permissible under the upcoming coal ash regulations. This includes exploring the possibility of extending the current beneficial fill project at the airport to use ash from the 1964 pond.

We take our responsibility to customers, communities and the environment seriously. This approach supports the continued protection of the French Broad River, while delivering on our commitment of reliable electricity, around the clock, for homes and businesses.

Please feel free to call me with any questions.

Jason A. Walls

Manager, Local Government and Community Relations – Asheville Region

Duke Energy Progress

w: 828.258.5019 | c: 828.409.4686

jason.walls@duke-energy.com

 SIERRA CLUB KELLY MARTIN’S REPLY TO DUKE LETTER:

March 13, 2014

Duke Energy Offers Plan to Remove Dangerous Coal Ash Pits, Considers Retiring Asheville Coal Plant

CHARLOTTE, NC – In response to Governor Pat McCrory’s request, Duke Energy has shared its plan to address ongoing dangerous and illegal pollution at all of its coal ash storage sites in North Carolina.

Senior Campaign Representative Kelly Martin issued the following statement in response:

“On behalf of the Sierra Club’s thousands of North Carolina members and supporters, I want to recognize Duke Energy’s leadership for taking responsibility for the tragic Dan River coal ash spill. CEO Lynn Good has made it clear that she and the company realize that wet storage of toxic coal ash waste is dangerous, threatening our clean water and treasured lakes, rivers and streams. Converting risky wet storage at all coal ash waste sites is a strong first step toward cleaning up Duke Energy’s toxic legacy in North Carolina.

On behalf of thousands of Asheville and Buncombe County residents, I applaud Duke Energy for publicly considering a plan to phase out the coal-burning units at its Asheville plant. Over the last two years, a grassroots movement of faith leaders, business leaders and elected officials has sprung up to show that burning coal in our backyard does not match our community’s values. If Duke Energy meets the demands of the community and phases out its coal plant, the Asheville plant will be the 163rd plant in the nation to be retired since 2010. Moving Asheville beyond coal is a critical step for Duke Energy as it takes responsibility for its errors and sets a new path forward.

Finally, while Duke Energy’s plan is a good first step, it is incomplete and does not fully rise to the challenge presented. Without more information, North Carolinians cannot be sure that their right to clean, safe drinking water will be protected. Without a clear commitment, hard-working families cannot be sure that one of the nation’s most prosperous companies won’t pass the buck. As the Sierra Club and our partners in North Carolina have demonstrated, environmental advocates are key voices for holding polluters and regulators accountable. We are only beginning to show the strength of our voices for North Carolina’s people and environment.”

CONTACT:

Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 281-6398, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org

Kelly Martin, Sierra Club, (828) 423-7845, kelly.martin@sierraclub.org

 

“Bus 101: Asheville Redefines Transit.” 

Date: Sept. 5, Wednesday, 7 pm
Location: Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, (corner of Charlotte & Edwin)

Sierra Club will present a program on multi-modal transportation and implementation of the first phase of Asheville’s Transit Master Plan, entitled “Bus 101: Asheville Redefines Transit.”  Speakers will be Dave Erb, Vice-Chair of the Asheville Transit Commission; and Yuri Koslen, Transit Poject Coodinator for the city of Asheville.

Contact: judymattox@sbcglobal.net, 828-683-2176

 

Alert: Stop Clearcutting around state billboards
Please email Governor Perdue at governor.office@nc.gov and write a Letter to the Editor of Asheville Citizens-Times (address below) and Mountain Xpress: letters@mountainX.com

Dear Gov. Perdue,
Last June the State Legislature passed SB 183 allowing for clearcutting around state billboards. On Jan. 19, 2012 the Rules Review Commission passed temporary rules allowing for this to happen.
Please challenge these rules and decline to enforce the rules of issuing permits for the clearcutting– for two reasons:
1) Please ask the Attorney General to offer an opinion on the constitutionality of the rules with respect to giving away public assets. It is estimated that the trees to be cut are valued at $12 million.
2) Inadequate public input. The rules will have a disproportionate impact on western NC, allowing football field areas of trees to be cut. Citizens in the west requested a hearing by the Rules Review Commission, but it was denied. I am writing as a member of the Sierra Club of Western North Carolina centered in Asheville.

Address: Letters to Editor, Asheville Citizens-Times, PO Box 2090, Asheville, NC 28802, 828-236-8973

Please read the following news articles:

NC Policy Watch

News Observer

 

Victory for Buncombe County Lighting Ordinance!
On Jan. 17 Buncombe County Commissions overwhelmingly passed powerful lighting standards for the county by a vote of 4-1. WENOCA Sierra Club and Bernie Arghiere of the Astronomy Club were instrumental in the passage of the ordinance which helps prevent unshielded lighting, wasted energy, unsafe glare causing night blindness, and light trespass onto neighbors.

The hearing room was packed with supporters and speakers in favor of the ordinances. Congratulations to all who emailed the commissioners and who spoke! Together we can protect our environment.

 

“Dark Skies” by Bernie Arghiere, president of Asheville’s Astronomy Club
Program: January 4, Wednesday,  7:00 pm
Unitarian Church,1 Edwin Place, at the corner of Charlotte & Edwin in Asheville

The local Sierra Club will present “Dark Skies,” a program by Bernie Arghiere, president of Asheville’s Astronomy Club, and constructor of 2 private observatories in our region,  who will discuss  Buncombe County’s first time lighting ordinances to be voted on Jan. 17 by Buncombe County Commissioners. Bernie will explain what we can do to encourage the county commissioners to make good ordinances. He will conclude with fun slides of Asheville’s night sky in January, 2012. Contact: judymattox@sbcglobal.net, 828-683-2176

 

Holiday Party December 7 at 7:00 pm

Sierra Club’s 2nd annual Holiday Party and recognition awards will be held Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7 pm at the Unitarian Church in Asheville, 1 Edwin Place.  Please bring a potluck dish to share and a book to swap. All are warmly invited. Contact information: judymattox@sbcglobal.net; 828-683-2176

 

Wells Fargo Destroyed “Treasured Tree”

Three trees (one a 50-foot designated “Treasured Tree”) were recently removed by Wells Fargo Bank on Patton Ave. in West Asheville. Within three weeks, new Wells Fargo signage has been erected at the same location. Please read the following article and email Lynn Blackwell, Wells Fargo Corporate Property Manager at lynn.blackwell@wellsfargo.com, 210 Wildwood Parkway, Homewood, AL 35209. Let her know your concerns and ask for appropriate replanting and restitution for our community. Please copy judymattox@sbcglobal.net.    - Judy Mattox, Chair WENOCA Sierra Club

 
 

Wachovia/Wells Fargo cut down ‘Treasured Tree’   By Stephen Weissman

 

If you go by the corner of Patton Ave. and N. Louisiana Ave. in West Asheville, you will see three small mounds of straw on the Wachovia/Wells Fargo property. Those straw circles are the only remains of three trees, which until September 22, adorned that corner. There were two flowering cherry trees planted ten or fifteen years ago by a class at AB Tech, parts of a row of those ornamental trees along the north side of Patton; and there was a huge Cypress Oak, also known as a columnar English Oak, which had stood on the west side of that property for at least 70 years. The oak was  unusually tall, fifty feet or more, and had been designated a Treasured Tree. It was admired by many who could see it for blocks up and down Patton.

At about 4:45 on the afternoon of September 22, a crew hired by Wachovia/Wells Fargo cut down all three trees.

When I saw the crew cutting down the tree, I stopped and asked about it. They said that they had a contract from Wachovia. I then banged on the bank’s door (it was closed) until someone answered. He said that the branch’s employees had no knowledge of the order to cut down the tree – and that those orders had come from headquarters.

The next morning, Sept. 23, I phoned the branch manager. He was out of the office. His head teller said that he did not know why the oak tree was cut down, that all the branch’s employees were saddened by it.

I wrote letters to the branch manager and to the president of the bank, protesting the killing of those trees and asking for an explanation.

I also contacted Susan Roderick of Asheville Greenworks; the City arborist, Mark Foster; Peter Loewer; Allison Arnold; the Arboretum; the County Extension Service’s Judy Plemmons; the Sierra Club; and several other local individuals who care about trees. I also wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times and received no reply. Some others did respond, including Shannon Tuch, of the City’s planning department.

On Sept. 25 Ms Tuch wrote to me as follows: “We had noticed the removal of this and two other trees on the property. All three trees were required trees and our office has already drafted and sent the Notice of Violation which also carries an immediate fine with it. In this case, the fine is $2,900 plus they will have to replant the site.”

On Oct. 5, the president of the bank, Delise Talley, phoned me. Ms Talley said that they had been advised to cut the trees down by the NC Department of Transportation, and that Wachovia/Wells Fargo had obtained a permit from a City official to cut down the trees on the claim that the oak had some rot in its upper branches.

Ms Tuch subsequently confirmed that the City had indeed given permission to the bank, and that the notice of violation which she had drafted, had to be withdrawn.

More than a few people suspect that the real reason was to eradicate even the slightest obstruction of the new sign which Wells Fargo unveiled on that corner on October 15.

If you are tired of corporate disregard for the environment, and if you grieve that three more trees have been killed, why not let Wells Fargo know? The name of the Wells Fargo corporate property manager is Lynn Blackwell in Alabama. Please contact her at lynn.blackwell@wellsfargo.com; 210 Wildwood Parkway, Homewood, AL 35209. Tell her of your concern and that you are requesting appropriate replanting of the trees, along with compensation to Asheville – the city and the community – for future beautification purposes. Please copy judymattox@sbcglobal.net.