Energy Working Group: February 1, 2012

Wednesday evening, 7:00 until 8:30, seven (7) members of The Energy Working Group (EWG) met at Glenwood Coffee & Books. Present were Julie, Emiley, Valerie, Kristen, Al, and two new and welcome people, Tira, and Teresa. John, Kate, Barry,Julia, and Mark were absent. (A new Guilford intern, Nick Greco, will be joining us soon.)

Emilie passed out a typed Agenda, and she also facilitated the hour and a half meeting. Announcements were first and, of course, we began with the sorrowful news that the horrible North Carolina Utility Commission (NCUC) had approved a 7.2 % rate increase for (ugh) Duke Energy. Valerie believes Duke is already asking for more, indeed an automatic and annual increase without even having to appear before the (ugh) NCUC or even apply for it! On a happier note, we did learn the new rate increase can be appealed to the N. C. Supreme Court. Emilie announced a series of six “Energy Classes” (four of them having already been given) being conducted at various branches of Greensboro’s public libraries; the two remaining are 2/18 and 2/20, the 2/20 right here in Glenwood, the theme of which is “to save money and to save the earth.”

Several lively discussions took place. Our newcomers, Tira and Teresa, came up with some original and splendid ideas, for example, Tira pointing out that the inferior construction materials of recent years has produced unnecessary energy usage and Teresa wondering why there isn’t more competition among energy providers. Tira also reminded us of the “Chinese Drywall Scandal,” and we discussed solar panels and their practicality. Naturally, we discussed the door-to-door survey we are conducting (already three weeks old).

Although energy other than electricity never got discussed (Gas, for example, was on the agenda), we did have a terrific discussion around how to expose the cynicism and impropriety of NCUC, whose chairman worked for the Duke Energy’s law firm! Finally, we each volunteered to undertake assignments before the next meeting: Teresa for example will look into the coming merger between Progress & Duke and examine her concern question why Duke is allowed to remain a monopoly; she wants to know how other states which have multiple suppliers went about getting that; Tira will look into dependence on energy. Al wants to find out who the past members of the dreadful NCUC were and what law firms they represented and now represent, assuming conflict-of-interest. Can we not assume present NCUC commissioners will soon leave the NCUC for lucrative posts in the energy industry and their representatives? Emilie was to look into a “teach-in,” Val into whether any of the professional energy watchers were planning a supreme court appeal of the rate hike; every one of us accepted at least one task, but the meeting was almost over, it was late, and I got too tired to remember details of these “assignments.”

We’re going to attempt fewer meetings, maybe every other week, and the next one is Wed. 2/15, 7–8:30 p.m. Meanwhile, our door-to-door Canvassing continues every Sunday, 2–3:30.

Respectfully submitted,