Protesters of fracking erect tower in Duke Energy CEO's driveway
Protesters upset with Duke Energy's involvement in a major pipeline project that will cut across North Carolina took their concerns to the front yard of CEO Lynn Good's south Charlotte home Wednesday.
Demonstrators erected a roughly 20-foot-tall tower in Good's driveway to express opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is expected to transport natural gas from West Virginia to eastern North Carolina.
Charlotte-based Duke is part owner of the pipeline, which opponents say will contribute to climate change and endanger the lives of thousands of families along the project's route.
"These people are suffering a lot from the construction of the pipeline, and we wanted to give Lynn Good an idea of what they're going through," said Charlotte resident Charles King, one of about 10 participants Wednesday. Protesters also unfurled several banners, including one that read, "Pardon the inconvenience This is a fracking site"
Duke Energy condemned the event, staged by activists affiliated with Beyond Extreme Energy.
"We respect everyone’s right to protest and provide their perspective on issues that are important to them, however this extreme group's behavior this morning to harass Lynn and her family at a private residence was completely inappropriate," the utility said in a statement.
"They were not only breaking the law by trespassing, but also did so in a manner that jeopardized the safety of the other residents of the neighborhood," Duke said. "This fringe group is far out of the mainstream in North Carolina in working to undermine a project that will produce clean, low-cost energy and thousands of jobs."
A video of the demonstration on Facebook shows Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department vehicles on the scene.
A CMPD spokesperson said one person was arrested for trespassing and littering.
Duke, like other companies affiliated with the pipeline, continues to receive criticism over the project.
Duke has argued that natural gas from the project will result in increased savings and reliability for customers and stimulate economic development in eastern North Carolina.
The company said Wednesday about 200 miles of trees have been cut along the 600-mile route to pave way for construction, which the company expects to start shortly. Project completion is scheduled for late 2019, Duke said.
King said "fracking" techniques used to extract natural gas result in methane, a greenhouse gas, being released into the atmosphere. But King said that while Duke Energy says it's shifting to cleaner sources of energy, it's not nearly enough.
"What they are doing is very, very little, just enough to basically make the claim that they're involved with clean energy at all," he said. "They greatly exaggerate the amount of energy that they're producing with renewables."
It's not the first time demonstrators have protested outside of Good's home.
A year ago, some of the same activists held an event the day Duke pushed its annual shareholders meeting online, eliminating the company’s long-running tradition of in-person meetings.
Good and her husband sold that home, off Providence Road, for $2.17 million the following month.