Art Pope's constellation.
The John Locke Foundation, based in Raleigh, is part of conservative businessman and state budget director Art Pope's constellation of free-market, anti-government groups. Its critique of Duke Energy was more muted—but no longer.
We'll get to the main story in a moment, but first we have to relish Bob Geary's turn of a phrase: "Art Pope's constellation of free-market, anti-government groups". We appreciate good writing, and Geary is a consistent source of it. This particular phrase is, in our estimation, just about perfect. Well done Bob!
And now what Bob's getting at:
What could possibly be wrong with one company supplying the electricity to 95 percent of our state? One company that is both public utility and shareholder-owned: Captive customers pay the bills and the company makes all the campaign contributions it wants.
Sure, a few critics howled. But they were easily dismissed, and soon a former Duke Energy staffer named Pat McCrory was elected governor. Duke was riding high.
Then a pipe broke in Eden on Feb. 2.
And you know what came next. Coal ash poured into the Dan River from one of Duke Energy's ash pits. Old toxic holes in the ground that Duke (and Progress) should've been required to clean up long ago, except that North Carolina regulators don't tell Duke what to do, Duke tells them.
As for the
star black hole in Art Pope's constellation, politics makes strange bedfellows:
And in some quarters, we're hearing the question asked: Wouldn't North Carolina be better off, and have lower electricity rates, if we allowed competition in the market and stopped protecting Duke's monopoly?
NC WARN and the John Locke Foundation, two groups vastly different in their political philosophies, have been asking that question of each other, each believing the answer to be yes.
Yep, Duke Energy & Pollution has become a pariah. Even the pro-business Pope constellation is less than thrilled with Duke's actions (admittedly, we expect, more because Duke Energy & Pollution reflects badly on Art & Pat than because they have genuine concerns about the environment or monopolies), joining long-time critics of the dirty energy giant.
Duke Energy & Pollution still has its defenders and butt kissers, but their numbers are greatly diminished.
Yes, people are pissed at Duke Energy & Pollution.