coal ash

A string of decisions by North Carolina regulators this year means electricity consumers could be seeing a multibillion-dollar bill to clean up mountains of waste Duke Energy created over decades burning coal to produce power.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Duke Energy Corp. will pay a $156,000 penalty for polluting ground and surface waters with potentially toxic coal-ash waste around three power plants, an amount one critic compared Friday to a couple of days salary for the company's CEO.

The penalty is less than a slap on the wrist for the country's No. 2 electricity company, which generated $23 billion in revenue and reported paying CEO Lynn Good $21.4 million last year, the Sierra Club's David Rogers said.

State environmental regulators are gathering comments on a proposed air quality permit that would let Duke Energy reprocess and recycle coal ash stored at the Buck plant in Salisbury, North Carolina. The 30-day public comment period wraps up with a public hearing Tuesday night.  

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Recently released data from Duke Energy is raising new concerns about contaminated water at the Asheville coal plant and others around the state.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb reports groundwater at the Asheville plant had levels of radioactivity 38 times the federal safety standard.

Duke Energy says it could completely phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050. By then, the utility expects to be generating electricity through a mix of other sources, including nuclear and gas-fired plants, and wind and solar farms.  That possible scenario came in a special Climate Report to Shareholders published Thursday.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has added two more weeks for public feedback on coal ash disposal and recycling.  DEQ held a meeting on that topic in Wilmington last month. The agency decided to extend the comment period after citizens said they wanted more time to provide feedback on the rules.

New data from federally mandated testing has found elevated levels of radiation in groundwater at 11 of 18 Duke Energy coal plants. Environmentalists and Duke disagree over what the numbers mean.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will begin hearings on a rate hike request for one subsidiary of Duke Energy after recently approving a 6 percent increase for another.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

A North Carolina appeals court should keep alive a five-year-old lawsuit because it increases the pressure on Duke Energy Corp. to clean up groundwater contaminated by its coal ash pits, environmental lawyers argued Thursday.

The Charlotte-based electricity utility admits coal ash has tainted underground water supplies, but says the potentially toxic brew hasn't harmed neighbors using water wells. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

Duke Energy has settled a class-action lawsuit filed by homeowners who live near the company’s coal ash sites, and the suit has been dismissed. 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is opposing Duke Energy's request to charge ratepayers for the costs of cleaning up its coal ash dumps around the state.  

People who live near Duke Energy's North Carolina coal ash dumps on Thursday marked 1,000 days of living on bottled water, amid fears that their wells are contaminated. They're calling on lawmakers to adopt stronger groundwater standards to prevent contamination of private wells. And they want Duke to dig up and secure coal ash statewide - not just at a few sites as now required.

Duke Energy has agreed to pay an $84,000 fine and will speed up coal ash cleanups at three coal-fired power plants in western North Carolina. The proposed agreement with state environmental regulators deals with pollutants seeping from coal ash ponds near the Marshall plant on Lake Norman, the Allen plant in Gaston County and the Rogers plant in Rutherford County.

Hearings continue this week in Duke Energy's request for a rate hike, and among the costs that the utility is trying to recover is nearly $2 million for bottled water it provides to homeowners near coal ash pits. 

By EMERY P. DALESIO

AP Business Writer

Charging North Carolina consumers the full, multi-billion-dollar cost of cleaning up coal ash dumps is comparable to tire stores charging customers an extra fee to dispose of an old set of wheels, a Duke Energy Corp. executive said Monday.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The country’s largest electric company heads into a fight for a rate hike with regulators in its top market now focused on setting a precedent on whether consumers should pay the full cost of cleaning up coal ash pits loaded with toxic metals.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission opens hearings today into whether Duke Energy Corp. will be allowed to charge consumers nearly $200 million a year for the cleanup.

For several years, Duke Energy has faced criticisms about its handling of coal ash, including concerns about contamination of groundwater around coal ash storage ponds at power plant sites in the Carolinas. Now, the company is facing scrutiny over the way it engaged with experts hired to study its handling of coal ash ponds. 

Duke Energy has removed about 13 million tons of coal ash at five plants in North Carolina as it complies with federal and state cleanup requirements. But ten times that amount remains in the ground across the state, and not all that will be removed.

What if a dam holding back coal ash burst at one of Duke Energy's coal plants in the Carolinas or Midwest? Newly released maps from Duke show many properties would be inundated, including some homes and docks. The maps are now public, after environmentalists threatened to sue. 

Matt Bush BPR

Opponents of Duke Energy’s plan to raise monthly rates close to 17% packed a public hearing in Asheville Wednesday night.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding a series of public hearings across the state to get ratepayer reaction to Duke’s plan.  The average bill could go up close to $18 a month if the commission approves Duke’s request.  It’s the utility’s desire to use some of that new revenue to clean up coal ash that had many in attendance angered, like Hartwell Carson of Mountain True.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening in Asheville where residents can weigh in on Duke Energy’s request to raise rates almost 17%.  If approved, the average Duke ratepayer would see their bill rise close to $18 per month.  The Utilities Commission, which has the final say on whether the rate hike takes effect, is holding public hearings across the state.  Wednesday’s in Asheville is the only one scheduled for Western North Carolina.  It starts at 7 pm in courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse.  Opponents of the raise are also

Gerry Broome/AP

The country's largest electric company is refusing online access to federally mandated maps showing the scope of disaster resulting if a coal-ash pit burst and spilled its toxic muck onto neighboring properties, two environmental law groups said Wednesday.

Duke Energy Corp. is giving notice it plans to seek electricity rate increases for another 2 million North Carolina customers.

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.

Dozens of insurance companies say they're not obligated to help pay for Duke Energy Corp.'s multi-billion dollar coal ash cleanup because the nation's largest electric company long knew about but did nothing to reduce the threat of potentially toxic pollutants.

A new Duke University study has found high levels of selenium in fish at two lakes near Duke Energy coal-ash sites in North Carolina. But Duke Energy says its own studies have found no problems with fish from the lakes.

Duke Energy has given state environmental officials details of how it plans to provide safe, permanent water supplies to people who live near the company's coal ash dumps.  The filings, for all but two plants, comply with a state law requiring the plans by Dec. 15.

Duke Energy has agreed to pay at least $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit by environmental groups over water pollution near a now-retired coal-fired power plant in Wilmington. 

Duke Energy plans to leave coal ash in place at North Carolina coal ash basins where it hasn't already announced closure plans. Duke announced those plans Friday to comply with federal coal ash cleanup rules.  

As Duke Energy and environmentalists have debated the safety of private wells near coal ash ponds, they've disagreed about the source of a carcinogen called hexavalent chromium. Scientists at Duke University figured out how to identify the chemical’s source. Conclusions from the study of 376 private wells say coal ash likely isn't to blame. WFAE's David Boraks talked with the study's lead author, Avner Vengosh about his research and recommendations.

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