Associated Press

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Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is deciding whether a clean-energy advocacy group illegally sold solar power to a church as part of its plan to undercut the monopoly of the state's electric utilities.

Jim Warren, Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state's electricity monopolies.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission's decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a Greensboro church's rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.

The commission told NC WARN that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Duke Energy Corp. will pay a $156,000 penalty for polluting ground and surface waters with potentially toxic coal-ash waste around three power plants, an amount one critic compared Friday to a couple of days salary for the company's CEO.

The penalty is less than a slap on the wrist for the country's No. 2 electricity company, which generated $23 billion in revenue and reported paying CEO Lynn Good $21.4 million last year, the Sierra Club's David Rogers said.

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — As teachers in multiple states protest for better pay, a new study warns that the fast-growing South region must invest more in public schools and higher education to ensure its homegrown talent shares in its economic prosperity.

The South Carolina House of Representatives has taken a surprise step and killed a solar energy bill that passed a key vote last week.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Drive past clustered hog sheds containing thousands of animals in the country's No. 2 pork-producing state on the wrong day and the reason hundreds of North Carolina neighbors are suing in federal court is clear: it really stinks.

The question facing jurors in a federal lawsuit starting Monday is whether the open-air animal waste pits that proliferated over a generation generate intense smells, clouds of flies and noise.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Health officials in North Carolina say the death toll from the flu for the 2017-18 season has increased its record-setting total to 342.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says 11 flu-related deaths were reported last week, and there were three deaths in previous weeks found to have resulted from the virus.

Of the 14 deaths, 13 were age 65 and older, while the other death involved someone between the age of 5 and 17.

The Green Party has become North Carolina's fourth official political party thanks to a new law offering more options to qualify, giving more candidate choices to some voters this fall.

The Supreme Court has already heard a major case about political line-drawing that has the potential to reshape American politics. Now, before even deciding that one, the court is taking up another similar case.

Duke Energy's board showed last year that it really wants to keep CEO Lynn Good on the job, boosting the severance package she could get if forced out the door and raising her reported compensation to $21.4 million, according to a company report released Thursday.

NC Democrats Talk Up Gun-Law Proposals

Mar 20, 2018
George Frey/Getty Images

Several North Carolina Democratic lawmakers unveiled gun restriction and school safety proposals Monday in response to the Florida school shooting, calling those "common sense" ideas that Republicans have already supported elsewhere.

The five House and Senate members from urban counties unveiled gun changes similar to those that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that he wanted the GOP-controlled General Assembly to approve.

MURPHY, N.C. (AP) — When Brian Hogan got a call that his wife had suffered a massive heart attack, he knew he had to get to the hospital fast. So Hogan asked his neighbor to take care of his 10-year-old daughter, then headed 60 miles east to the intensive care unit in Asheville, North Carolina.

What happened next would eventually expose a practice by a child welfare agency that illegally removed potentially hundreds of children from their homes in this poverty-stricken mountain community.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds of times a year across North Carolina, officials who control everything from the taxes you pay the city to the tuition required to attend public universities meet behind closed doors to conduct sensitive business on behalf of the public they serve.

A North Carolina congressional candidate said the website she used when she campaigned for another office is now owned by a Russian.

Duke Energy said its top executive's compensation has more than doubled over the past two years. 

RICHMOND, Va. — Civic leaders in town after town along the 600-mile (966-kilometer) route of a proposed natural gas project have posed for similar photographs, smiling and accepting poster-sized checks from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Woody Durham, the retired "Voice of the Tar Heels" who called North Carolina football and basketball games for four decades, died Wednesday. He was 76.

David Boraks/WFAE

A week after allowing Duke Energy a rate increase that includes charges for coal ash cleanup for about half its North Carolina consumers, state regulators on Monday began considering raising prices on an additional 2 million customers.

The state Utilities Commission opened a hearing on the company's request to charge an extra $539 million a year to customers of its Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary in central and western North Carolina. That translates into a 14 percent increase for the typical residential customer's $104 monthly bill, a spokesman for the Charlotte company said.

A Washington-based group asked North Carolina ethics officials Monday to investigate some of state House Speaker Tim Moore's business interests and interactions with state environmental regulators over the site of an old poultry plant.

WCU

 North Carolina election administrators are asking state lawmakers for additional money and changes in the law to improve the security of registration and balloting from external and internal threats.

State elections board Executive Director Kim Strach wrote Tuesday to General Assembly elections oversight committee leaders.

Strach's requests follow warnings by federal officials nationwide about Russian hackers during the 2016 elections. Two local election workers also pleaded guilty last year following separate investigations.

aliengearholsters.com

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's schools chief is opposed to arming teachers in classrooms, an idea President Donald Trump and some legislators in North Carolina and other states have suggested following the shootings at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

By RACHEL ZOLL, Associated Press

MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99.

NC NAACP

Thousands rallied Saturday at an annual social justice march that began 11 years ago in North Carolina and focused this year on protecting voting rights and ending gerrymandering.

Arlene Thomas of Burlington told The News & Observer of Raleigh that she attended the "Moral March on Raleigh" on Saturday despite the rain because the 2016 election turned the formerly apolitical 68-year-old into an activist.

Primaries for North Carolina state appellate court seats won't happen this year if a federal appeals court decision stands. A panel of judges Friday reversed a lower court decision that would have required the primaries, giving a victory to Republican state lawmakers.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

A North Carolina appeals court should keep alive a five-year-old lawsuit because it increases the pressure on Duke Energy Corp. to clean up groundwater contaminated by its coal ash pits, environmental lawyers argued Thursday.

The Charlotte-based electricity utility admits coal ash has tainted underground water supplies, but says the potentially toxic brew hasn't harmed neighbors using water wells. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

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Democratic Rep. Mickey Michaux, currently North Carolina's longest-serving state legislator and a fixture at the General Assembly in the fight for voting rights and funding historically black colleges, said Thursday he won't seek re-election.

Michaux, a Durham attorney, first joined the House in 1973 and has been elected to 20 two-year terms, with a stint as a federal prosecutor and unsuccessful runs for Congress sprinkled in between.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina law that cancels primaries this year for judicial seats has been partially halted.

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction directing state election officials to hold primaries for appellate court judgeships in May. But U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles refused to restore primary elections for local trial court seats.

Democrats sued to overturn the law and asked Eagles to step in, with candidate filing for other races starting Feb. 12.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Few things are certain about North Carolina's 2018 elections, except that voters ultimately will choose members of Congress and the General Assembly and those for county positons.

A tangled web of legislation and litigation stretching to the state's highest court and nation's highest court has made it unclear how this year's elections will be administered, even though candidate filing for some seats begins in two weeks.

There are several court cases and proposals that make murky the election calendar and its management.

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A three-judge panel has refused a request by North Carolina Republican lawmakers to block the use of new legislative district maps the judges approved for this year's elections.

North Carolina's Supreme Court on Friday declared unconstitutional a law forcing the governor to pick state elections board members from names the political parties select. Judges said the law makes Cooper unable to fulfill his duties to make sure election laws are followed. 

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