Duke Energy says cost of converting coal ash ponds could top $10B

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(File photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. — It would cost as much as $10 billion and take as many as 30 years for Duke Energy to convert its handling of potentially toxic coal ash to a dry — and environmentally safer — handling method and to remove existing coal ash from its 33 waste ponds statewide, company officials said Tuesday.

On the low end, Duke’s estimate topped out at $2.5 billion to use a cap-in-place method that, according to conservationists, would not eliminate coal ash as a potential source of water contamination.

Duke customers, not shareholders, may end up paying for the cost.

Asked whether customers would carry the cost of coal-ash removal, Paul Newton, the president of Duke’s North Carolina operations, told reporters that the question would be better answered by the N.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates utility rates.

“The N.C. Utilities Commission and the S.C. Public Service Commission are regulators designed to answer cost issues. They are there to answer the issue of who pays what when,” Newton said after a meeting of a state legislative environmental panel here.

Conversely, Newton said during the panel meeting, Duke would pick up the cost of clean the Dan River of the sludge-like ash waste that its coal-fired power plant in Rockingham County spewed from a waste pond in February.

So far, the clean-up expense has come to $15 million.

All of the company’s waste ponds are in violation of state or federal clean-water laws, leaching or discharging potentially toxic heavy metals into surface water or groundwater.

A Wake County Superior Court judge has ruled that state law requires the immediate removal of sources of water contamination.

The meeting comes as state lawmakers prepare to draft legislation aimed at dealing with coal ash disposal.


  • Paul

    “Duke customers, not shareholders, may end up paying for the cost.” Picture it this way: You buy a set of tires from a local garage. The tires are sold to you defective and they blow out the first week. You take the tires back to the garage for a refund. Instead of paying for a new set of tires, the garage owner takes money out of other customer’s wallets to pay himself for the defective tires sold to you.
    The point is – NO BUSINESS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO REQUIRE CUSTOMERS TO PAY FOR THEIR MISTAKES. The shareholders should be fully responsible. What a pathetic company. It should disgust every Duke customer as much as it disgusts me.

  • JWS

    I am sure they have discussed this whole situation with our current governor and it is already planned for consumers to pick up the bill.

  • FaithC

    We have toyed with the idea of solar and getting off grid, now is the time to do it. Duke customers will be picking up the tab for sure.

  • its my business

    Can’t someone file a Class Acton suit to stop them from robbing us to pay for what they should have been keeping up with/dealing with in the first place? This is huge!

  • Thomas Christopher

    Maybe Duke should seek a bailout from the Feds, especially since they extended a $10 million line-of-credit (later forgiven) to the Democratic Party during their 2012 national convention in Charlotte.

  • Kennith Thomas

    Hey people you wanted less government and this is what you get. As the laws read they CAN and WILL pass the cost of the clean up to its customers, and with our governor and state lawmakers blessings. So just deal with it and SHUT UP!! Remember, You voted for this.

  • UnderArmour

    The sad part of all of this is that customers do not have a choice on who they use for power, so no matter what, your stuck with Duke Power….so may as well start saving your dollars as much as possible because Duke Power is about to do the same thing our government and politicians do to us each and every day….screw us in our pockets!

  • its my business

    This is going to hurt a lot of people in their pockets, me included – big time. I don’t like paying for other monopolies’ known oversights. I wish I was a stakeholder, then I wouldn’t have to pay. It’s just not right and I don’t know how we can combat the issue of paying for something we had no control over. I wish I knew how to live off of solar lighting and a generator. I know that sounds silly, but I’m not going to be a happy person when the new bills start coming to this house.I wonder if there’s a way we can just say we’re not going to pay that part of the bill? I know we can’t, but I wish we could.

  • its my business

    Oh and you can’t drink the water – but that’s been going on for a while. I wish I had the know-how to start a petition. But that probably would go over like a lead balloon, because we are at the monopolies control. I am so upset by this. The charges are in the Billions last I read …

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