July 13, 2017 Read More →

Duke Wants Customers to Pay $200 Million For Coal Ash Clean-Up

Emery P. Dalesio for the Associated Press:

 The nation’s largest electric company wants regulators in North Carolina to force consumers to pay nearly $200 million a year to clean up the toxic byproducts of burning coal to generate power. That doesn’t sit well with neighbors of the power plants who have been living on bottled water since toxic chemicals appeared in some of their wells.

“They want to pass their mistakes on to the land owner. This is not fair,” wrote Nancy Gurley, who lives near the utility’s plant in Goldsboro.

She was responding to a request filed with state utility regulators last month that marks the first time Duke Energy Corp. has sought permission to have North Carolina consumers pay part of its costs of cleaning up the waste, which are estimated to total $5.1 billion in North and South Carolina alone.

Duke Energy Progress would raise electricity bills of 1.3 million North Carolina customers by an average 15 percent, generating an extra $477 million a year, with an 11 percent return on a measure commonly described as potential profit margin. The bulk of that would cover ongoing costs of replacing coal-burning plants with natural gas and storm repairs. But it also includes $66 million already spent to deal with coal ash, and $129 million more in future clean-up costs.

Duke Energy Carolinas — the holding company’s other North Carolina subsidiary — is expected to request a rate hike for its 2.5 million customers for similar reasons in the coming months.

Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other elements that may be hazardous in sufficient concentrations. Duke Energy denies that its basins contaminate the surrounding groundwater. But environmentalists and state regulators say those heavy metals could be seeping through the unlined bottoms of pits where liquefied coal ash has been stored for decades, into natural sources for wells where worrying concentrations have been documented.

Charles Walker Jr. has been forced to use bottled water, mostly provided by Duke Energy, since the chemicals showed up in his Belmont neighborhood, near the company’s Allen power plant in western North Carolina.

He says shareholders and high-paid executives of the $59 billion company should be paying for all this, not the customers.

“In my opinion, if you’re going to be negligent, if you made a mistake, you need to feel the sting. Don’t just pass it on,” Walker said in an interview. “If a septic company comes to my house and accidently spills sewage all over my property, are they going to send me the bill for that?”

Full article: Coal ash neighbors: Don’t raise rates as pollution lingers

Comments are closed.