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From Wofford student-intern to emerging energy leader

Peoples loves work on the front lines of tough environmental and political issues.

Danielle Peoples ’11 is exactly where she wants to be—on the front lines of a tough environmental and political issue… and it all started during a Wofford Interim.

Peoples, now a coal ash communications consultant and company spokeswoman for Duke Energy, interned with Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president’s organization during her senior year at Wofford.

“Bill Barnet, my professor of a civic engagement seminar class, helped create the opportunity for me,” she says. “The state president offered me a role on the team after graduation.”

Peoples worked with the team as a special projects coordinator focusing on government and community relations, including helping plan the company’s involvement in the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2012. She became an industry and community engagement consultant focusing on the rollout of new smart grid technologies before joining the coal ash communications team after the incident at Duke’s retired Dan River coal-fired plant in February 2014.

“I wanted to join the coal ash management communications effort to help our communities understand we’re a company made up of good people who want to do the right thing,” says Peoples. “Managing coal ash successfully is one of the biggest threats and opportunities for our company.”

An environmental studies major at Wofford, Peoples says she understands that there’s a complex relationship between environmental protection and good business sense. 

“We grappled with that balance and finding where the two intersect successfully,” says Peoples, referring to a “Business and the Environment” class she took with Dr. Andrew Green at Wofford. “There’s often no easy answer.”

Peoples loves her job, which involves working closely with engineers, groundwater experts, geologists, journalists and the neighbors of Duke Energy’s power plants, and she does it well. The Charlotte Business Journal recently named Peoples a 2015 Emerging Energy Leader, which honors up-and-comers strengthening the Carolinas’ energy industry. 

To learn more about managing coal ash, visit »