Coal Ash Settlement Could Save Duke Energy Customers $1.1 Billion

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Your power bill could go down under a proposed settlement on coal ash cleanup.

Under the deal, Duke Energy shareholders would pay part of the expensive clean up costs.

“This settlement is a win for every single Duke Energy customer,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, during a news conference on Monday.

Duke Energy is required to pay an estimated $4 billion in coal ash cleanup costs over the next decade, according to the AG.

Under the proposed settlement, Duke Energy shareholders will pick up the tab for about $1.1 billion of that.

“Before the settlement, under the 2017 rate case, practically all of the cost were on the backs of the customer. That is not the case going forward,” Stein said.

The settlement will still need to be approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Duke is in the process of removing 80 million tons of coal ash at six North Carolina sites.

“It’s just been incredible the amount of ash that’s been generated over the last 50, 60 years,” says Catawba Riverkeeper Brandon Jones.

The ash has been sitting in unlined ponds, leading to neighbors worried about toxic chemicals possibly seeping into their drinking water.

The material will now be placed into lined landfills on site and capped.

“This wasn’t guaranteed to happen. Other states are still fighting this battle. North Carolina is really moving forward at a great pace. And this will be the largest industrial clean up in American history by volume,” Jones says.

The settlement only covers the next 10 years of cleanup, with work expected to continue through 2037 at a total estimated cost of up to $9 billion.