Post by Dan Cannon, Greenpeace Student Network
It’s not everyday the Rainbow Warrior, a 190 foot sailboat, shows up in the small quiet town of Southport, NC, but this last weekend that’s exactly what happened. The boat was so large, instead of docking, Captain Willcox had to anchor the ship in the middle of the Cape Fear River. Hundreds of North Carolinians lined up to be chartered over to the ship and given a tour. While others stopped traffic on coastal roads so they could get out and take a full frame picture of the ship.
Greenpeace used this opportunity to not only show off our new ship, but to also talk with local residents about where their energy comes from. Two utility companies Duke Energy and Progress Energy provide almost all of in North Carolina. Soon the two companies are hoping to merge and would create the largest energy utility in the country, which I like to call “MEGA-DUKE”! Once the merger is finalized, “MEGA-DUKE” will operate fourteen dirty archaic coal-fired power plants within North Carolina.
I could go into the dirty details about coal, talking about how coal is hurting our climate, environment, and our families’ health. Instead, I want to talk about people power, and what some folks are already doing to make sure “MEGA-DUKE” prioritizes clean renewable energy like wind and solar.
On Saturday, after coordinating and helping to make sure hundreds of North Carolinas got a tour of our new ship, eleven dedicated student activists from University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) came aboard the Rainbow Warrior. The eleven students are members of UNCW Eco a dedicated campus environmental group who has worked with Greenpeace on several campaigns. The students were excited to work with Greenpeace on the ship tour, but also had plans of their own.
Eco members requested to use the ship for a strategy meeting. There they sat down with our coal campaigner Kelly Mitchell, and our North Carolina Field Organizer Monica Embry. The students worked with Kelly and Monica to brainstorm how they can best influence future “MEGA-DUKE”, while putting pressure on their own University to transition to 100% clean energy.
During the meeting students worked with our staff to develop what will eventually be a strong campaign plan. I had the privilege of sitting in on the strategy meeting, which was very exciting yet serious. Everyone was there to gain a firm grasp on the soon to be utility monopoly in North Carolina and work hard to figure out how college campuses will play a role in pushing Duke to move towards clean energy in North Carolina.
The meeting consisted of a lot talk around collaboration between both community members and other North Carolina Universities. Specific timelines, legislation, key dates, events, tactics, and strategies were also discussed.
After the meeting I felt, inspired and hopeful. As a fellow young person I am always impressed by my peers, the passion, time, and dedication the millennial generation puts into combating dirty energy is unbelievable. Coming out of that meeting, I hope MEGA-DUKE is ready to immediately begin quitting coal, investing in clean energy technology and implementing clean energy power on a large scale, because my generation, the millennial generation, is not waiting around anymore.