Duke’s Dirty Electric

By Kate Melges

Green Peace Protest Duke Energy

Concerned residents of Cincinnati, young and old, came out to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hearings on Duke Energy’s rate plan to testify that they are sick of being held back by Duke’s reliance on dirty coal power. 

Some testified as to their trouble breathing while participating in outdoor activities in Cincinnati.  Jenna Taylor told PUCO members she dreams of the day when she can play softball and not worry about needing her inhaler to be outside.

Valerie Corwin, a resident of New Richmond, OH where the Beckjord coal plant is located, testified about the thick, black soot she has to wipe off her car every day that comes from the nearby stacks. Valerie also spoke of family members that have passed away due to illnesses she thinks have been exacerbated or even caused by the pollution from Beckjord.

Chris Heckman, a long time Cincinnati resident and new father said “I don’t want my son to grow up in a place where I have to worry about the damage being done to his lungs every time he goes outside to play.”

“I’m sick and tired of companies like Duke Energy asking residents to prop up their polluting coal plants, while they rake in the profits and residents of Cincinnati including my son and I suffer the health effects,” he continued.

These are only a few of many residents that are affected by Duke Energy’s electric security plan (ESP). Other concerned citizens, ratepayers and students gathered at the PUCO hearings for Duke’s plan to voice their concern, testifying that they object to the outrageous idea that Duke would still be allowed to pass along costs to former customers who have since switched power providers in the form of “riders.”  That means even someone who buys renewable energy from a provider like Cincinnati Bell is paying for Duke’s coal plants!

The ESP is designed to ensure the supply and pricing of electric generation service for the next ten years. However, Duke’s plan would lock its old coal-fired power plants onto the grid for up to 10 years without any plans to reduce the pollution from these plants.

“We are not here to bail out Duke,” said one customer succinctly. If Duke wants to hold onto its coal plants despite their age and threat to the community, the PUCO should make the company bear that financial risk and not ratepayers. Ratepayers will have to pay for the scrubbers and other retrofits needed to keep these dirty coal plants on the grid for years to come.

Greenpeace Field Organizers said, “Duke Energy’s plan is a clear statement that they care about their profits more than the health of the people in Southwest Ohio.  Duke needs to go back to the drawing board and propose a serious plan that moves Ohio away from polluting, expensive coal power and on to clean, renewable energy. ”