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Cheers, not jeers, in order over Cliffside emissions

Rutherford Co. coal plant will be one of the nation's cleanest.

From James L. Turner, president and chief operating officer, Duke Energy - U.S. Franchised Electric and Gas, in response to a Jan. 22 Viewpoint piece that raised concerns about Cliffside emissions:

Last fall, ongoing analysis by Duke Energy's environmental experts yielded good news about our new Cliffside coal plant. Working with North Carolina's Division of Air Quality, we learned the innovative, redesigned air pollution control system being installed at Cliffside will make emissions from the plant even lower than originally believed.

In fact, our experts determined the emission of hazardous air pollutants will be so low that the plant will be a minor source, rather than a major emitter.

Given this news, we asked NCDAQ to amend an already stringent air permit to add the minor source limits. Our existing permit already meets or exceeds all state and federal environmental standards, which are designed to protect public health. If the state approves the additional restrictions we have proposed, it will be further indication of just how clean our Cliffside project will be.

Unfortunately, some people just don't like good news. An op-ed piece in the Observer last week took issue with Duke Energy's request to amend the Cliffside permit to reflect the minor source limits. The authors don't want the Cliffside plant completed, so they refuse to acknowledge a distinction between when they should jeer and when they should cheer.

The Cliffside plant will be one of the cleanest, most efficient coal plants in the nation when it comes on line in 2012. At Duke Energy, we work to provide our customers energy that is as affordable, reliable and clean as possible.

The need for balance is what led us to modernize the Cliffside site by retiring units 1 through 4, installing new pollution controls on unit 5, and adding a new unit 6 that includes some of the best emission control technology ever installed on a power plant. The need for balance is also what leads us to propose innovative energy efficiency programs and renewable energy sources to our regulators.

Thousands of people, including plant neighbors, local businesses, and economic development groups, have endorsed the Cliffside project. They understand when it's time to cheer.

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