GREENSBORO — These days, you can breathe easier in the Triad.
Air quality is improving partly because, like the rest of the nation, strict emission standards have put the squeeze on the worst pollutants, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.
Duke Energy was once a major air polluter. In the Triad, the company has installed expensive scrubbers at its Belews Creek Steam Station to remove dust particles from its smokestacks or converted other plants to natural gas.
The Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point area had the fewest days of high-level ozone pollution since the group started producing reports 18 years ago, the Lung Association said.
The Triad was also one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle days — spikes in pollution that can last for hours to several days and can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In North Carolina, the cleanest cities for ozone air pollution were Greenville-Washington, Hickory-Lenoir, New Bern-Morehead City and Wilmington.
Forsyth, Guilford and Rockingham counties were among the state’s cleanest for short-term particle pollution.
Dominion Resources will shutter its Yorktown coal plant in April, and afterwards may need to use rotating blackouts on the Virginia Peninsula in order to maintain grid reliability and avoid voltage collapse.
The Yorktown's two units do not run often, and violate environmental emissions standards. They are required to close by law, RTO Insider reports, and once they are offline, the grid will become unstable.
The Army Corps of Engineer is considering a transmission line could replace the lost power but it will need to cross the James River, and that proposal has many opponents. The design calls for more than a dozen transmission towers.