Where coal ash cost belongs


To the editor:

After much legal wrangling, 2020 kicked off with news that Duke Energy finally had agreed to excavate all of its coal ash basins, including at Mayo and Roxboro Power Stations, and move the material to lined landfills.

Residents in and around Roxboro expressed overwhelming support for this approach during public meetings in 2019, and it’s easy to understand why this outcome provides affected communities with greater peace of mind than other options the utility had presented.

But regardless of whether you live near a coal-ash site, there is another aspect of this issue that should be of great concern to all Duke Energy customers: the cost of the cleanup.

Duke Energy says flatly that it expects ratepayers, not the company, to bear the excavation costs. It would be wholly unfair if the utility is permitted to raise our electric bills to pay for what can be attributed only to the company’s mismanagement of coal ash.

Perhaps the utility’s decades-old monopoly status may have played a role as well. It has long ruled the roost and is used to getting its way, but we’ve seen signs lately that times are changing.

The fact that Duke is being forced to excavate its coal ash is one of those encouraging developments, and I hope the public will persuade regulators to make sure ratepayers don’t get stuck with the bill.

Laura Barnhart


Editor’s note: The writer is director of North Carolina Conservatives for Clean Energy.


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