Report: Out-of-State Coal Costing NC Billions
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina power producers - primarily Duke Energy - spent $1.8 billion to import coal from other states in 2012 alone. A report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists highlights that cost and the benefits of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.
Ulla Reeves, high-risk energy program director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the state's economy could benefit by reallocating the investment in coal.
"Coal was, and actually still is, such a huge part of North Carolina's energy portfolio," she said. "That is money that could be kept in North Carolina."
According to the report, the amount of coal imported into North Carolina decreased by 36 percent from 2008 to 2012, but its cost has increased to more than $93 a ton - one of the highest prices in the nation. The report, called "Burning Coal, Burning Cash," ranks North Carolina second in the country in terms of its dependence on imported coal.
Despite that dependence, North Carolina has great potential for renewable energy, Reeves said. The state ranks second in the nation and first among southeastern states for installed solar capacity.
"We need to maintain that and keep going forward so that we can stop sending these dollars out of state," she said. "Bring them home. Build our sustainable industries."
The state is making some advancements, she said. Duke Energy has an annual efficiency savings target of 1 percent starting next year and has retired seven coal-fired power plants, with seven still open.
The report and more information are online at ucsusa.org.