Duke energy withdraws from ACCCE

Posted on September 4, 2009

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accce-whoOn Wednesday, September 2, Duke Energy announced that they were withdrawing from membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an industry group composed of utilities, mining companies, and other companies involved in the mining, transportation, and combustion of coal.

In response, the ACCCE issued a bland statement that didn’t even mention Duke by name. It says, in part:

ACCCE is a broad and diverse coalition, composed of more than 40 members, who are working to advance the public policy dialogue on critical issues relating to energy, environmental, and economic policies. From time to time, individual coalition members may have different perspectives with regard to important policy positions.

Coming on the heels of letters forged by Bonner & Associates on the ACCCE’s behalf, a few websites have suggested that Duke’s departure was related to those letters. S&R put this question to Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams, who said that the letters were not the cause. Instead, the official Williams claimed that it became clear that a number of other ACCCE members had no intention to support addressing climate change. Williams also said that he had himself observed this in some of the steering committee meetings that he attended.

Williams went out of his way to point out that not all of the remaining ACCCE members were against making progress in addressing climate change, only that, as the official talking points claim, certain “influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation in 2009 or 2010.”

Duke Energy remains part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business group that recently called for a “Scopes trial” hearing on the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change and that climate change is a threat to human health. When asked about Duke’s membership in the Chamber, Williams responded that the Chamber was “not a single-issue organization.”

According to Williams, Duke supports climate change legislation before Congress and is asking the Department of Energy for some funding to assist in commercialization of carbon capture technology on the scale of an large coal plant. Duke is currently constructing a large integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) coal plant in Indiana, and it’s this plant for which Duke is applying for federal financial assistance. According to Williams, Duke has also asked Indiana utilities regulators to allow Duke to pass some of the research and development costs for carbon sequestration on to Duke’s customers.

According to Duke’s official talking points, “coal must continue to be part of our nation’s power generation mix,” even though carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are, according to Williams, “clearly not” commercial yet.

Duke will now have to work on developing those technologies without the cover of the ACCCE.

Other relevant links around the Web:

The Sierra Club’s response to Duke’s withdrawal from ACCCE.
The Wonk Room at ThinkProgress discusses other companies who might have similar conflicts to Duke’s
DeSmogBlog’s Kevin Grandia at HuffPo
Alcoa quietly abandoned ACCCE sometime in the not too distant past
Pete Altman at the NRDC

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