- Duke Energy told North Carolina regulators it could cost $7-10 billion and take up to 30 years to clean up all the utility’s coal ash ponds in the state.
- The utility has pledged to spend up to $2.5 billion removing coal ash kept at its Riverbend and Dan River ponds.
- Duke’s statement was made to the North Carolina Joint Environmental Review Commission as part of the ongoing investigation and follow up to a February incident that saw 39,000 tons of coal ash spill into the Dan River.
- Duke didn’t propose who should pick up the tab for the clean up of the 33 coal ash ponds operated by the utility, saying state regulators would make the decision.
After the spill, environmental groups and state legislators petitioned Duke to get rid of all of its coal ash ponds. However, February 25 letter sent to Duke CEO Lynn Good by Governor McCrory placed priority on the coal ash ponds near running water.
Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Frank Holleman said the only way to stop coal ash from contaminating ground water is to dispose of it in dry, lined pits instead of ponds. He added that Duke Energy’s rate payers shouldn’t bear the cost of any clean up. Because the coal ash ponds violate state laws, the utility’s shareholders should pay, he said.
Industry analysts disagreed, pointing out that there are no federal regulations of coal ash and current practice is to pass the cost of any clean up from fuel generation on to rate payers.