Greenpeace flew an airship over Cincinnati today with banners reading “Dump Duke Energy” and "Cleaner is Cheaper" to highlight the opportunity the city has to switch to a cheaper, renewable energy provider.

For years, Duke Energy executives and their Wall Street investors have made millions of dollars on the backs of Ohio energy customers, while poisoning the air with coal fired power plants. Two of these old coal plants, Miami Fort and Beckjord, sit on either side of Cincinnati and have been pumping out pollution for the last sixty years. According to the Clean Air Task Force, the pollution from these two coal plants is responsible for 200 deaths, 313 heart attacks, over 3,200 asthma attacks and hundreds of hospital admissions and emergency room visits each year.

200 deaths per year. And that’s just two of Duke’s six coal plants in Ohio.

But all that could soon change. Last November, Cincinnati residents overwhelmingly voted to pass a ballot initiative allowing the city to pool its purchasing power and choose a new energy provider. (You can learn more about how communities in Ohio are coming together to negotiate better deals with energy providers in this report from Ohio Citizen Action.) Now, the Cincinnati City Council is considering what criteria to use when choosing a new energy provider, such as cost savings and renewable energy. Cincinnati could choose to require 100% renewable energy from any energy providers seeking a contract to supply electricity to the city. At a City Council hearing this past Monday, nearly every resident who testified urged the City Council to require any energy provider seeking to provide the city with power to use 100% renewable energy.

It’s a great opportunity to replace Duke’s dirty coal power with less expensive clean, renewable energy. While Duke Energy says that it wants to be a responsible, forward-looking company, it continues to rely on dirty old coal plants. If it wants to be Cincinnati's energy provider, Duke should be switching to renewable energy. Until then, Cincinnati should choose a new energy provider and the cleaner air, good jobs, and lower electric bills it would bring to Ohio.