My Turn, Carrie H. Bolton: Citizens have power to speak up

Published 10:02 pm Sunday, February 11, 2018

We are senior residents of  Salisbury and concerned citizens of this country. Many of us live on fixed incomes. We have been struggling to pay our high electricity bills. Some of us have even been affected or know people affected by the coal ash crisis in North Carolina. As a result of this, when Jim Warren of NC Warn came to speak to us about our energy needs, holding Duke Energy accountable for how they say they use our money, and about how the earth is affected by carbon emissions, we listened.

What troubled many of us is the length to which companies like Duke Energy will go to keep information from the public about the effects of their decisions. We are concerned about what happened with the coal ash, and how we were made to offset the cost of correcting the problem. We are also concerned about Duke Energy’s efforts in “clean energy.” Less than 2 percent of it goes to solar and win energy.

Most of it is about natural gas and fracking. Our state, again, cold be directly affected. The pipeline used to move the gas will not keep all the gas in. It will leak it into the air before it reaches the power plan. It is not safe.

Natural gas is also more harmful for the environment, even though it burns cleaner than coal. This is because the gas is primarily methane, which makes it “80 to 100 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping atmospheric heat” (from Jim Warren’s letter to The News & Observer). The earth gets hotter because of this trapped heat. We have already seen the effects of this warming on our climate with the worsening and frequency of hurricanes, the droughts, wildfires and the melting of our glaciers.

Our money could be better spent on technological and resources that actually end up lowering our electric bills and making the earth safer.

We would like to see, for example, genuine efforts be made to increase the use of solar energy. We also would like to see Duke Energy — the largest electric utility in the country — be more responsible in what it does in its decision-making, and we would like more of a say in how our money is spent. We don’t want to be at risk. Most importantly, we want to leave an earth in which our children and grandchildren can live with peace.

The situation we face is overwhelming. “What can we do?” one of us asked at the meeting with Jim Warren. “We are just  little people compared to the giant executives and politicians.”

We can write, we can inform, we concluded. That is something we could do.

We wrote this letter to help inform the public. We hope all of us will join as a community to let our voices be heard and to hold people accountable for what they are doing that affects our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Carrie H. Bolton lives in Salisbury. This column was also signed by 19 other Salisbury residents.