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.

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.

Duke Energy's annual meeting is Thursday, but don't try to go to uptown Charlotte and vote your shares. This year’s meeting will be at a secret location, beamed to shareholders via telephone and internet. Protesters say they'll be at Duke's headquarters anyway.  

May 1st is celebrated around the world as International Workers Day. In Charlotte and around the state, rallies showed support for a particular class of workers - immigrants. About 250 people marched in uptown Charlotte.

President Donald Trump wants to revive the coal industry and bring back coal jobs. But big coal buyers like Duke Energy are moving in the opposite direction. Duke's annual sustainability report calls for continuing to invest in cleaner energy sources, like natural gas and solar power. 

Updated 1:06 p.m.

A battle between Gov. Roy Cooper and state lawmakers over the state Court of Appeals has escalated, with the governor's appointment of a new judge Monday. Cooper got the chance to pick a Democrat after a Republican judge on the court retired early to protest his party’s efforts to shrink the court. 

Duke Energy plans to spend an extra $13 billion over the next decade to modernize the power lines and systems that distribute electricity in North Carolina. The upgrades include burying lines, adding technology to reduce outages, and giving customers more energy efficiency tools. 

House Bill 2 is no longer on the books. Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill Thursday afternoon to repeal and replace the controversial law. The measure easily passed the state House and Senate earlier in the afternoon. Those who oppose the repeal include people who both supported and opposed House Bill 2.

It's way past the deadline set by Congress - 35 years past - but women are organizing in North Carolina and nationwide around a bit of unfinished business: ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

Several Republican state senators are trying again this session to limit the expansion of wind power, saying new turbines could interfere with military flights. The bill filed Wednesday, the Military Operations Protection Act of 2017, would halt permits for new wind farms until studies show they are safe.

North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry says Republican leaders are working to revise their party's health care plan to win approval. So far, moderates and conservatives are far apart. McHenry is playing a key role in trying to bridge their differences.

Business leaders in the region's immigrant communities say President Trump's tougher line on immigration is having a chilling effect on businesses and the broader economy. Fear and uncertainty are keeping some shoppers home and threatening to dampen investment in immigrant businesses - one of the fastest growing parts of the economy.

A federal appeals court has granted a request by the state Department of Environmental Quality to withdraw its legal challenge to former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. The move comes amid a changing of the guard in both Raleigh and Washington, where the Trump administration has said it plans to cancel the rules.

Duke Energy is getting rid of in-person annual shareholder meetings. This year's meeting will be online only. Duke says it will save shareholders money and travel and reach more people. But Duke's critics don't like the idea.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan sees a lot of optimism over the U.S. economy following the election of President Donald Trump. But at a Charlotte World Affairs Council lunch Wednesday, he said North Carolina continues to lose out because of House Bill 2, the 2016 law that limits protections for LGBT people.

Duke Energy this summer will ask North Carolina regulators to raise the rates consumers pay on their electricity bills for the first time in four years. The rate hikes – at Duke’s two electricity subsidiaries in the state - would help pay for new plants, Hurricane Matthew recovery costs and coal ash cleanups.

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