- Duke Energy will still plead guilty to criminal offenses related to the Dan River coal ash spill, but on Wednesday won a delay in sentencing from a judge in order to avoid potential power disruptions at military installations in North Carolina.
- According to WRAL, the company is worried it could run afoul of regulations barring corporations convicted of crimes from winning or renewing federal contracts.
- Duke's agreement to serve Fort Bragg will run out at the end of September, and the contract was potentially at risk because of its criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
A U.S. District judge approved a one-month delay in Duke's decision to plead guilty to coal ash violations, allowing the utility time to potentially win a waiver to continue serving military installations after the case concludes. Regulations preclude a corporation guilty of a crime from winning or renewing federal contracts, and those rules jeopardized Duke's ability to serve military installations in North Carolina.
Earlier this year, in an earnings statement, Duke acknowledged the potential for a $100 million fine and said it was "in settlement discussions with the U.S. government related to the ongoing federal grand jury investigation of the February 2014 Dan River coal ash spill and ash basin operations at other North Carolina coal plants."
State law also requires Duke to close all its storage ponds and safely dispose of the ash by 2030. North Carolina must clean up 108 million tons of ash in 32 ponds at 14 sites.
In February, federal prosecutors charged Duke with nine misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act releated to its handling of coal ash in North Carolina.