Environment

Economic growth and protecting the environment were at the heart of the Green Future for Economic Development Summit held in Raleigh Wednesday. Urban planners along with business, government and non-profit leaders met at the McKimmon Center on the N-C State campus. Sig Hutchinson chaired the event. He says business leaders are drawn to the Triangle in-part, by clean water and air.

Snow and ice this winter is proving costly for the state Department of Transportation. DOT spokesman Steve Abbott says the Department spent more than 31 million dollars through January 18th, already surpassing what was set aside for road clearing. He says that's because of the high number of storms we've seen this winter.

Today marks the first day new pollution rules go into effect for Falls Lake. The State Division of Water Quality found Falls Lake to be impaired in 2008.

Falls Lake is the source of drinking water for half a million Wake County residents, but most of the watershed lies in Durham and Granville Counties. That has put local officials at odds for the last 18 months as they hammered out the new rules.

Snow falling in many parts of central North Carolina is expected to turn to freezing rain tonight. A layer of at least a tenth of an inch of ice is likely to form. Brandon Vincent is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says the roads will be dangerous.

"We'll see freezing rain and freezing drizzle persisting perhaps all the way through Tuesday morning even into early Tuesday afternoon, so the road situation's going to get pretty bad later this evening and overnight."

People interested in offshore energy development along the North Carolina coast are invited to attend a series of public hearings this week. The meetings are being organized by Governor Bev Perdue's Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy. Seth Effron from the state's energy office says even though there's a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas, there are other sources to consider.

Warm-Up On The Way

Dec 28, 2010
Melting Snow, American Tobacco Campus
Laura Leslie

If the White Christmas has already lost its charm for you, then this weekend's forecast should be good news.  The Triangle will see spring-like temperatures to ring in the New Year.   Brandon Vincent is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

Growing A Broccoli Economy

Dec 23, 2010
Broccoli
Linda N. Flickr Creative Commons

Some North Carolina horticulture experts want you to get your next head of broccoli closer to home.

Broccoli is a 700-million-dollar a year industry in the U S, and most of that gets shipped from the West Coast. But agricultural scientists from N C State University think that can change.

Total lunar eclipse captured January 20-21, 2000
Mr. Eclipse/Fred Espenak; nasa.gov

Night owls across North Carolina could witness an eerie occurrence tonight. There will be a total lunar eclipse from around 1:30 to 4 am. That’s when the Earth is directly between the moon and sun, temporarily blocking out the moon.

Volunteers and wildlife rehabilitators have rescued about twenty endangered sea turtles from cold waters and beaches so far this month. Lou Browning is a wildlife rehabilitator on Hatteras Island who's been helping transport turtles stunned by cold waters to veterinarians.

"When the temperature drops quickly, we get a cold that comes through the sound and the water temperature drops dramatically, when it drops below about 56 degrees Fahrenheit, sea turtles have a difficult time and they become lethargic."

NC Building Codes Get Greener

Dec 14, 2010
ASU Tech Chair Jeff Tiller
ASU

The state’s Building Codes Council agreed today to require higher energy efficiency in new buildings.  Starting in 2012, commercial buildings must be 30% more energy efficient than they’re required to be today.  New homes must be 15% more efficient. That means more insulation, better windows, and other changes.

State officials are encouraging people in the Roanoke River Basin to attend public hearings on water usage. The state is holding a series of meetings focusing on the quantity of water needed to support population growth over the next few decades. Steve Reid works for the State Division of Water Resources. He says the river and its tributaries are used for everything from drinking water to recreational boating:

Walker Golder
Audubon North Carolina

One of the last undeveloped barrier islands in North Carolina is one step closer to permanent protection. Audubon North Carolina has purchased a 35-acre tract of land on Lea Island in Pender County. The money was made available through a private donation.

Chimney Rock Park Plans Posted

Nov 29, 2010

The public gets its first look today at the draft master plans for the new Chimney Rock State Park.  The landmark near Asheville has been one of western North Carolina’s top attractions for decades.  In 2007, its private owners sold it to the state to become part of a large new state park at Hickory Nut Gorge. 

weather map
NOAA

 

Today marks the start of the official “Winter Weather Preparedness Week.” State emergency officials will be educating the public on ways to be prepared in the event of nasty weather. Jeff Orrock is with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says this year’s forecast of an intensified La Nina system means there’s a good chance we’ll see a warmer, drier winter than last year’s:

USDA Offers Help For Longleaf Pine

Nov 26, 2010
Longleaf Pine stand, Forest, Trees,
USFWS/Jack Culpepper

The federal government is making $800,000 available to North Carolinians trying to conserve the official state tree.  Landowners who plant or manage stands of longleaf pine can apply now for cost-sharing help from the U-S Department of Agriculture.   Longleaf forest used to cover some nine million acres of the southeastern US. But development and logging have cut it back to less than a million acres today. 

Eric Hodge hosts a one-hour digest of the Energy Series stories that aired April 12-23, 2010 .

App State Profesor Dennis Scanlin and wind turbine
Dennis Scanlin

North Carolina could get most of the energy it needs as a state from renewable sources including solar and wind. That's according to a report published earlier this year by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. But when it comes to producing wind energy that goes back into the grid, North Carolina is behind other states. In fact, there is only one utility-grade wind turbine in all of North Carolina. Jessica Jones reports for our series, North Carolina Voices:  Tomorrow's Energy.

A solar panel, renewable energy
NCSU/CSE

Over the last three years, North Carolina has seen exponential growth in the use of solar power- from a few panels on homeowners' roofs to heat hot water to large installations that produce energy and send it right back into the grid. Small business owners working in the industry believe what they're doing is good for the state and for the environment. But right now, their prospects are limited. Jessica Jones reports for our series North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow's Energy.

Consert CEO Jack Roberts
Jack Roberts

New businesses to help save the planet are popping up everyday.  As a result, your ability to do environmental good may be closer to your finger tips than you think.  Already, there are pockets of households and businesses in North Carolina that are able to control their heaters and air conditioners online or from their smart phones.  They're living on a Smart Grid - that's becoming smarter and smarter every day.

As part of our series North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow's Energy, reporter Leoneda Inge has the story of one smart grid pilot project in Fayetteville.

Behind the Reporting: 'Tomorrow’s Energy'

Apr 20, 2010

If you’ve been tuned in to Morning Edition this past week or so, you’ve been hearing a series of reports about energy from WUNC’s reporters. The series, “North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow’s Energy,” addresses where North Carolinians currently get their power and where we’ll get it in the future. A lot of work goes into those six or seven-minute radio reports, which means a lot also gets left out. The melody of a coal-fired power plant and the sculptural beauty of a wind turbine are among the details of the reporting that didn’t make it on the air. On today’s show, we’ll talk with WUNC reporters Dave DeWitt, Leoneda Inge, Jessica Jones and Laura Leslie about what they took away from their reporting and what else is left to say about powering North Carolina’s future.

Durham Sustainability Manager Tobin Freid
Tobin Freid

North Carolina has topped many lists in the past few years.  It's one of the fastest growing states and ranks high for its business climate.  But in energy efficiency, NC is wading somewhere in the middle of the pack nationwide.

Universities like UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State are among the largest electricity users in the state. Some produce their own power, some buy their electricity from utility companies. And all have student bodies that are vocal in their anxiety over global warming.

As part of our series North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow’s Energy, Dave DeWitt looks at how campuses are transforming to meet their future energy challenges.

Tomorrow's Energy: Pricing Power

Apr 15, 2010
Electric power meter, energy
Creative Commons/Jc3s5h

Most energy consumers know what they pay for electricity.  But very few of us know why we pay what we do.  Who decides what a kilowatt should cost?  And how does energy policy change that?  In this segment of our series North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow’s Energy, Laura Leslie reports on the complex process of pricing power.

Energy companies are predicting that the need for power will grow in North Carolina in the coming years. With climate legislation likely, they are turning back to an energy source that has been put on the back burner for several decades… nuclear.

In February, President Obama announced 8 billion dollars in loan guarantees for a Georgia utility company hoping to build new nuclear reactors. Progress Energy and Duke Energy both have plans to also build new nuclear to serve customers in North Carolina.

Drill in N.C., Baby, Drill

Apr 14, 2010

The White House unveiled a new and controversial plan to open up more than 160 million acres of ocean floor to drilling two weeks ago. Some states were omitted from the plan, but not North Carolina and its neighbors. We’ll find out why North Carolina politicians’ once vociferous opposition to offshore drilling seems to have fizzled. Plus, will the new drilling plan help land Obama a win on climate change legislation?

Tomorrow's Energy: Quitting Coal

Apr 13, 2010

Every time you hit the light switch, half the power you use is supplied by coal.  It's one of the cheapest and most dependable fuels we have.  It's also the dirtiest.  As regulators crack down on carbon and other emissions, some say we should stop using coal altogether.  Others aren't sure that's a realistic goal.  Laura Leslie reports for our series North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow's Energy.

Energy companies are predicting that the need for power will grow in North Carolina in the coming years. With climate legislation likely, they are turning back to an energy source that has been put on the back burner for several decade: nuclear.

In February, President Obama announced 8 billion dollars in loan guarantees for a Georgia utility company hoping to build new nuclear reactors. Progress Energy and Duke Energy both have plans to also build new nuclear to serve customers in North Carolina.

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