Duke Energy of North Carolina is a diversified electric company that that still relies on fossil fuel operations, but the industry giant is also embracing sustainable energy (perhaps egged on by another sustainability-minded utility operating in the Southeast, Progress Energy). Duke is into wind power in Wyoming, and last year the company announced that it will build between 100 and 400 mini solar power plants throughout North Carolina over the next two years.
Duke launched the program last October with four installations, and this week they announced plans for ten new solar power installations at schools, government facilities, and private businesses. Among the advantages Duke sees in distributed solar is the idea that people can see the installations during the course of their day, and familiarity will foster a better understanding of solar energy’s potential for growth. Now, if only Duke could do something about that pesky U.S. Chamber of Commerce…
Duke Energy and the Future of Sustainable Power
Duke has put its corporate profile where its mouth is when it comes to transitioning to an energy future reliant on solar and other sustainable power. The company, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., withdrew from the National Association of Manufacturers last year in part due to the trade organization’s stance against greenhouse gas regulation. Duke also withdrew from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (remember the notorious Clean Coal Carolers?) for similar reasons. That’s why heads turned earlier this week when Duke CEO Jim Rogers left the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As it turned out the move was a routine rotation, but Rogers has been a critic of the Chamber’s obstructionism. Other major U.S. energy companies have already withdrawn their membership over the Chamber’s cockeyed position on climate change including PG&E, Exelon, PSEG, and PNM Resources.
Sustainability and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Rogers doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to give up on the Chamber, citing the possibility of changing its direction on climate legislation from within. Hopefully he’s prepared to “duke” it out (hahaha sorry, couldn’t resist) with some top decision makers at the Chamber, or at least shake some sense into them. Unfortunately, Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue’s hysterical reaction to the new Democratic campaign finance reform proposals doesn’t provide much evidence of clear thinking in the organization (especially since the Democrat he lit into was named “Legislator of the Year” by a local Chamber of Commerce). Also, according to a recent article in Think Progress, Chamber of Commerce political director Bill Miller was among those meeting with Karl Rove and Wall Street execs last week to make strategy on killing another crucial legislative drive, financial reform. Wow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking advice from the notoriously discredited Karl Rove — hey, who’s side are they on, anyways?
Whose Side is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce On?
Given its position on climate change, it does not seem that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is for the U.S. Navy’s sustainability drive, part of which involves a push to adopt sustainable biofuels for fighter jets. Ditto for the U.S. Air Force and biofuels. An all-out push for getting the U.S. military off fossil fuels is the key to future security, but don’t take my word for it, check out what the entire U.S. Department of Defense says about climate change. And if the Iraq Oil War wasn’t a wakeup call then perhaps this is: according to an article last week in the New York Times, China (yep, the one that buys a lot of oil) is expanding its naval defense to include Mideast oil ports for the first time ever. How nice it would be not to have to worry about all those overseas oil supplies so much — so how about getting on board, Chamber of Commerce?
Image: Ten by The Truth About… on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.