David Boraks

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.

Duke Energy is reporting a profit of $703 million in the last three months of 2017. The company says cold weather boosted energy use, expenses were lower and it benefited from changes in the federal tax law.

Duke Energy has settled a class-action lawsuit filed by homeowners who live near the company’s coal ash sites, and the suit has been dismissed. 

Thanks to unusually low temperatures, January is turning out to be a record month for electricity use in North Carolina.  It also could mean higher bills for customers, according to Duke Energy. 

Updated 6:35 p.m.

North Carolina environmental regulators have issued a key water permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It's one of the last permits needed before construction begins in the state.

Duke Energy has proposed a new solar rebate program for homeowners and small businesses in North Carolina - something required as part of the state's new renewable energy law that took effect Jan. 1. 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is opposing Duke Energy's request to charge ratepayers for the costs of cleaning up its coal ash dumps around the state.  

People who live near Duke Energy's North Carolina coal ash dumps on Thursday marked 1,000 days of living on bottled water, amid fears that their wells are contaminated. They're calling on lawmakers to adopt stronger groundwater standards to prevent contamination of private wells. And they want Duke to dig up and secure coal ash statewide - not just at a few sites as now required.

Duke Energy has agreed to pay an $84,000 fine and will speed up coal ash cleanups at three coal-fired power plants in western North Carolina. The proposed agreement with state environmental regulators deals with pollutants seeping from coal ash ponds near the Marshall plant on Lake Norman, the Allen plant in Gaston County and the Rogers plant in Rutherford County.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson took himself out of the team’s front office Monday, and turned over day-to-day operations to fellow executive Tina Becker. That came a day after he announced he's selling the team, and amid an NFL investigation of misconduct allegations against him. The news has led to lots of speculation about the fate of both the owner and the team, including what the Panthers might sell for, and potential buyers.

After Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican Governor Pat McCrory a year ago, state environmental secretary Donald van der Vaart gave up his office. After all, he was a McCrory appointee. But he didn't leave the agency. Instead he demoted himself and the department's No. 2 official, John Evans, to staff positions. The two men have since spoken out on policy issues, sometimes at odds with state policy. Now the Department of Environmental Quality has put the van der Vaart and Evans on paid  "investigatory leave."  WFAE's David Boraks joins "All Things Considered" host Mark Rumsey to talk about the situation.

 

North Carolina's two U.S. senators have joined a growing group of Republican colleagues in Congress calling on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to withdraw from the race.

Charlotte's City Council will get five new members - all under the age of 40 - when the new council is sworn in on Dec. 4. That represents a generational shift in city government, says WFAE's Tom Bullock.

The city of Charlotte has made history electing its first African American female mayor. In a landslide victory, Democratic candidate Vi Lyles defeated Republican Kenny Smith. 

Duke Energy has removed about 13 million tons of coal ash at five plants in North Carolina as it complies with federal and state cleanup requirements. But ten times that amount remains in the ground across the state, and not all that will be removed.

What if a dam holding back coal ash burst at one of Duke Energy's coal plants in the Carolinas or Midwest? Newly released maps from Duke show many properties would be inundated, including some homes and docks. The maps are now public, after environmentalists threatened to sue. 

On a country road south of Monroe in Union County, near a golf course and soybean fields, is a new kind of farm - a solar farm.  This spring, Duke Energy began generating electricity from 684,000 solar panels here, the largest solar farm in the Charlotte region and one of the largest in the state.

A deal was announced this week to end litigation over legislation that replaced House Bill 2. The proposal would allow transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity…that is only in agencies that are under the governor’s control. But the settlement is missing the approval of one notable defendant: the state legislature. It would also need the approval of a judge. 

Shannon Gilreath, a law professor at Wake Forest University, talks about the deal and an executive order associated with it.   

Updated 7:10 p.m.

A North Carolina environmental group is asking the NC Supreme Court to decide whether it's legal for it to install solar panels on a church rooftop, then sell electricity to the church.  NC WARN is appealing a 2-1 ruling against it last month by the NC Court of Appeals.

Duke Energy plans to install its first two large-scale battery storage units in 2019 in western North Carolina.  A nine-megawatt battery system will be installed in Asheville and a four-megawatt system is planned in Hot Springs, in Madison County.

Electric utilities are preparing for the possibility of widespread power outages if Hurricane Irma blows into the Carolinas next week.  Forecasters say the mostly likely problem will be wind.

President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA, brought a range of reactions in North Carolina. Congressional Democrats called it a betrayal and cold-hearted. Republicans applauded, though they disagree on how far to go with a law to replace DACA. Immigrant advocates hope for a compromise to help DACA's so-called "dreamers." 

Updated 4:54 p.m.

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is applauding the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA. Tillis said Tuesday morning it should be up to Congress to set a long-term policy on the status of immigrants who arrived as children.

Duke Energy announced last week it's pulling the plug on two proposed nuclear power projects.  But executives say Duke isn't shutting the door on the idea of building more nuclear plants someday.

Profits were up 35 percent at Duke Energy during the second quarter compared with a year ago, helped by higher prices and strong sales of electricity. The company saw higher profits in all three of its main businesses: gas, commercial renewable energy, and the largest - electricity.

The N.C. State Board of Elections says it will provide voting data to a special White House commission hunting for voter fraud. But amid concerns over the Trump administration’s June 28 request, the board says it will limit the information to publicly available voter data.

Duke Energy has withdrawn a request for state permission to use an additive at its coal-fired power plants that caused problems two years ago with Charlotte's drinking water. Environmental groups had sued, and celebrated the move. Duke said its decision was unrelated to the challenge.

https://youtu.be/EnEgGjs-SUc

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is used to fielding a lot of questions. It goes with the job. But many questions in the last two weeks have concerned his health since he passed out during a road race in Washington, D.C.

"I ran the fastest 2.5 mile race of my life. Unfortunately, it was a 3-mile race," he quips.  

As you can tell, Tillis says he’s fine. He says he just didn’t hydrate properly.

Of course, Tillis still gets asked about President Trump, Russia, health care, and immigration  - all topics he addressed with WFAE’s David Boraks.

Updated 3:07 p.m.

Warmer winter weather slowed Duke Energy's electricity sales in the first three months of the year. But profits still rose slightly, and executives say overall Duke is growing.  During the first quarter, the company also logged expenses from its October merger with Piedmont Natural Gas, and saw international revenues disappear, after the December sale of its Latin American operations.

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would limit the amount of damages nearby property owners can collect if a court rules that smells from hog and poultry farms are a nuisance The governor also has signed a Republican-backed bill that rolls back some state regulations on the environment, business and government agencies.  

Duke Energy shareholders elected directors and voted on other questions Thursday at the company's first virtual annual meeting. Ballots and questions for the CEO were submitted in advance, or by clicking a button on a special web page.

Duke CEO Lynn Good sat on a blue-curtained set and looked toward the camera as she opened the meeting at an undisclosed location.

Pages