The fight for full excavation of Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash pits finally came to a close when the company signed a settlement agreement with DEQ and community groups to remove over 80 million tons of coal ash from unlined pits across the state. While this marks a major victory for impacted community members living near these sites, Duke is trying to slap them with the bill to pay for massive cleanup.
Rate cases for both Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) are currently underway, with Duke seeking to recover costs associated with coal ash cleanup, upgrades to their fracked gas infrastructure and costly “grid modernization,” with no clear benefits to customers or cleaner energy. Impacts of the proposed rates would hit hard, as DEC wants to raise electric rates by at least 6.7%–increasing annual electricity bills for an average customer by over $100, while DEP is proposing to raise rates by at least 14.3%, adding over $200 annually to an average electric bill.
The rate hikes for coal ash cleanup are being pushed on to customers despite Duke’s own insurance companies have refusing to cover costs related to coal ash liabilities, saying the company knew of the risks of spreading contamination but continued to dump ash into unlined pits. Duke’s coal ash decisions weren’t even open for public input, so the company’s shareholders, not its customers, should be held responsible for Duke’s stunningly poor decisions.
DEP’s proposed rate hike includes having customers pay for the new $820 million Asheville fracked gas power plant. DEC’s rates would force customers to pay for their irresponsible, $278 million decision to retrofit coal plants to burn fracked gas. Focusing on electric generation from fracked gas perpetuates the “bridge fuel” myth and holds North Carolinians captive to Duke’s climate-forcing, methane emitting fracked gas infrastructure. Transitioning straight to renewable energy and storage is the smart path for customers and for the climate.
Clean Water for North Carolina and other groups say Duke Energy must take responsibility for its coal ash toxic mess, not customers like us! Through testifying at public hearings, submitting comments, writing op-eds, holding press conferences and promoting turnout , CWFNC and our allies continue to stand for a clean energy future in North Carolina– not one at the mercy of by Duke’s dirty energy plans. The Utilities Commission Public Staff has already intervened to recommend a 7% rate REDUCTION for Duke Energy Carolinas!
Duke Energy Progress Public Hearing: March 12, 7:00 PM, Buncombe Co. Courthouse, Courthroom 1A, 60 Court Plaza, Asheville
Duke Energy Progress Evidentiary* Hearing: May 4, 2:00 PM, Hearing Room 2115, Dobbs Building, 430 N Salisbury Street, Raleigh
Duke Energy Carolinas Evidentiary* Hearing: March 23, 2:00 PM, Hearing Room 2115, Dobbs Building, 430 N Salisbury Street, Raleigh
(*these hearings are for expert testimony only, so there will not be an opportunity for public comments, but the public is welcome to attend)