Friday, July 14, 2017

Duke Energy wants customers to help pay for coal ash cleanup

Duke Energy dug up toxic coal residue from a spill from its
Dan Rivervpower plant in Eden, N.C.(Associated Press photo)
Duke Energy Corp. wants to increase electricity bills an average of 15 percent for 1.3 million North Carolina customers to pay for cleaning up the toxic byproducts of burning coal to generate power, Emery Dalesio reports for The Associated Press. People who live near the power plants were already unhappy, since they've been living on bottled water since toxic chemicals appeared in their wells. Charles Walker Jr. of the western North Carolina town of Allen says the company's profits should paying for the disposal. "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 accidentally spills sewage all over my property, are they going to send me the bill for that?”

The request for the rate increase from Duke Energy Progress was filed in June and is the first time Duke has tried to get North Carolina consumers to pay for part of the estimated $5.1 billion it will cost to clean up the waste there and in South Carolina. The increase would generate an extra $477 million per year. "The bulk of that would cover ongoing costs of replacing coal-burning plants with natural gas and storm repairs," reports Dalesio. "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 is the holding company's other North Carolina subsidiary, and will likely request a similar rate increase for its 2.5 million customers in coming months.

Duke produces an average of 150 pounds of coal ash a year per household, but says it is disposing of it appropriately and coal-ash storage basins are not allowing toxic chemicals to seep into the surrounding groundwater, and that cleaning up the coal ash is a routine expense.

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