by Caroline Hansley, University of Richmond, Hendersonville, NC
On Monday, administrators from campuses across North Carolina are arriving at Appalachian State University for the Appalachia Energy Summit. The summit is to “aid The University of North Carolina in creating a strategic sustainable energy path for the mutual benefit of our students, the environment, and the world.”
As you may recall, The North Carolina Student Energy Network (NCSEN) met earlier this summer. Overall, we are very excited the energy summit is taking place and look forward to see what comes out of it. But in an effort to ensure that NCSEN's goals are heard we have written a letter requesting a personal meeting with UNC President Thomas W. Ross with a facts and suggestions sheet.
In the letter, NCSEN calls on the UNC system to commit to becoming the first State University system within the nation to be 100% powered by renewable energy. This summit is a great first step and NCSEN was excited to see all the goals for the summit. NCSEN couldn’t agree more with goal number six: “Reduce reliance on environmentally damaging fossil fuels from both foreign and domestic sources.”
Unfortunately, we feel what’s missing is creating a goal that would address the reality that Duke Energy, after merging with Progress Energy, owns 82% of North Carolina’s energy market. NCSEN is concerned that if our administrators do not address this fact head on, Duke Energy could squash, or severely inhibit any renewable energy plans, targets, and ideas.
Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO, talks the talk about a clean energy future and combating climate change, but the reality is Jim Roger’s and Duke Energy are not following through on their statements. This is evident in North Carolina’s energy mix: dirty coal and dangerous nuclear energy account for 83% of the state’s energy mix.
Summit goal number four reads: “Position the University of North Carolina system and our Private University colleagues as national leaders and models for knowledge and process leader in sustainability and sustainable energy.” To make this a reality, NCSEN believes President Ross and our universities must push Duke Energy to do the right thing, so our campuses can be true leaders and be 100% powered by renewable energy.
NCSEN wants to personally meet with President Ross to talk through the facts and suggestions, how the UNC system as a large energy purchaser can push Duke Energy to do the right thing, and how we can move the UNC system to 100% clean as fast as possible. If president Ross can write a letter basically demanding administrators to attend a meeting about UNC’s energy future, shouldn’t he take it a step further, writing a letter demanding that each campus move to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible?
To make sure our letter is seen we will be faxing it and emailing it to the Board of Governors, each university chancellor and all of the UNC system student government presidents.