Asheville — The North Carolina Utilities Commission, the government body tasked with regulating Duke Energy’s activities in NC, is holding a public comment session on Wednesday September 27th 7-10pm. Community Roots, an Asheville based nonprofit, is organizing a Street Theater Rally and March starting at the Vance Monument at 5pm. Duke Energy is requesting a 16.7% rate increase from residential customers to cover, among other things, cleanup of their coal ash and the construction of new gas-fired plants including the one in Arden. Community Roots and its partners believe the public must take advantage of this opportunity to voice their opinions to the Commissioners and Duke Energy.
Suzannah Park, leader of the Wild Asheville Community Chorus and director of the Street Theater Rally believes “it’s easy to get lost in the maze of utility regulatory law; we want people to understand the issues at stake, what Duke Energy is asking for and feel empowered to go speak their mind to the Utilities Commissioners. Street theater is a powerful way to reach folks on a personal level by making the invisible or confusing issues, both visible and more easily understood.”
The performance will begin at 5pm at the Vance Monument then move to the Buncombe County Courthouse by 6pm when the doors open for people to go sign up for public comment. The rally will continue around the courthouse until the public comment sessions starts at 7pm.
The Street Theater performances will focus on key issues raised by Duke Energy’s requests including the $416 millions slated for the building of new infrastructure for production of electricity from gas. “The building of these gas-fired plants and associated pipelines will continue our reliance on fossil fuels for another 30-40 years, preventing us moving to 100% renewable energy in a time frame that will make a meaningful impact on the current climate crisis. We need to move away from planet warming fossil fuels as soon as possible.” says Community Roots co-founder Kat Houghton.
In collaboration with The Sierra Club, Citizens Climate Lobby and Clean Water for North Carolina, Community Roots is organizing a training session for those who want to comment at the NCUC session. Ken Brame of The Sierra Club, one of the training session facilitators, believes “in order to influence decision makers we have to be able to talk their language.” This training will be on Wednesday September 20th from 3-5pm at Lenoir-Rhyne University.