Duke sues 30 insurance companies over coal ash cleanup
- The Charlotte Business Journal reports Duke Energy has filed a lawsuit against more than two dozen insurance companies that previously covered its coal ash waste containment operations—but Duke has been self-insured since 1986.
- According to the news outlet, the companies provided general liability insurance to Duke from the early 70s through the mid-80s. However, Duke says they may still be on the hook for claims regarding groundwater contamination.
- Duke is expected to seek a rate increase to pay for cleanup costs that could exceed $5 billion over the next several years.
Earlier this month, a poll from a conservative renewable energy advocacy group showed more than 80% of North Carolina residents said the utility should pay the costs to clean up its coal ash. Now, it seems Duke is looking for alternative ways to spread the costs around.
According to the Triangle Business Journal, Duke's claims against past insurance companies would be payable under the North Carolina Coal Ash Management Act, which was initially passed three years ago. Recovered monies would only go to cover groundwater contamination charge, and would not go towards any federal or state fines, or to pay for cleanup of the 2014 Dan River Spill.
In 2016, Duke developed a proposal to excavate 34 basins and cap another 18 basins in place as part of its efforts to protect drinking water from the waste. But the cost to clean it all up has been rising. A similar rate case is expected in South Carolina in 2018. In January, Duke said it wanted to defer recovery of more than $700 million in cleanup costs until it filed a new rate case later this year.
Duke's lawsuit does not give a specific figure for damages it seeks to recover, but the utility wants the N.C. Business Court to hear the case and believes the underlying value could exceed $1 billion.
- Charlotte Business Journal via Triangle Business Journal Duke Energy seeks $1B in insurance claims for coal-ash contamination
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