‘A big win’: Duke Energy coal ash settlement to save customers $1.1 billion in North Carolina

North Carolina

This Sept. 14, 2020 photo shows shows a Duke Energy natural gas-fired electric power plant on Sutton Lake in Wilmington, N.C. It went online in 2013 and replaced a coal-fired plant that had polluted the lake with coal ash. Sutton Lake is among a number of man-made reservoirs in the U.S. that environmentalists say will lose federal protection from pollution under a Trump administration revision of the Clean Water Act that took effect this year. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

RALEIGH, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – North Carolina has reached a settlement with Duke Energy over the coal ash cleanup that will save customers over $1.1 billion, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced Monday.

“This settlement is a win for every Duke Energy customer,” A.G. Stein said. “North Carolinians should not bear the full cost of cleaning up coal ash. Now we won’t.”

The settlement came in part from a partnership with the Public Staff at the Utilities Commission and the Sierra Club.

According to the Associated Press, in April 2015, North Carolina officials issued letters to the owners of 330 water wells near Duke Energy’s coal-burning plants that their well water was too contaminated with the heavy metals vanadium and hexavalent chromium to use. Both can occur naturally in soil or as a result of industrial byproducts like coal ash, the waste after coal is burned to generate electricity.

In 2020, Duke Energy agreed to clean the remaining six coal ash sites in North Carolina. This includes the Marshal site on Lake Norman and the Allen site on Lake Wylie. The Duke Energy 14-site coal-ash cleanup is the largest coal ash cleanup in U.S. history.

Duke stored coal ash in in landfills near waterways for decades, and concern grew over the years that toxic chemicals would be released into those nearby waterways.

Credit: Duke Energy

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