Duke energy knew they had a coal ash containment problem. The energy company allowed it’s dirty coal ash to be dumped into the Dan River poisoning the drinking water of North Carolina families. Now, they want to charge their customers to clean it up and pay for the bottled water they have been giving to the families whose water they have polluted. Lawmakers had a chance to prevent them from raising their rates to cover their clean up costs and did nothing. Now, Duke wants our citizens to pay for their negligence. When will our legislators start putting people before the profits of polluters?
When Duke Energy says it wants to cover coal ash cleanup costs by raising customer rates, it means right down to the bottled water it’s bought people living near the ash pits, a top executive testified Tuesday during a hearing on the company’s proposed rate increase.
That tab, less than $300,000 so far, is a small part of the $184 million a year Duke Energy Progress wants ratepayers to pony up for coal ash disposal at plants in North Carolina. But it speaks to the level of detail on display as Duke executives try to convince the North Carolina Utilities Commission to sign off on an increase, a process that proceeds much like a courtroom trial.
Lawyers with the state Attorney General’s Office peppered Duke’s state president with questions Tuesday morning, moving from the bottled water issue to a long-running feud that Duke and its predecessor companies have with a string of insurers that refused to cover coal ash cleanup costs. Those fights go back to the 1990s, suggesting a question: If executives knew then that the company faced significant costs from coal ash, why didn’t they address the issue then?
Special Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Harrod also pointed Tuesday to a 1985 notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which reviewed coal ash deposits at a Wilmington plant then owned by Carolina Power & Light, now known as Duke Energy Progress. Under “description of potential hazard” the document states, “Groundwater contamination most likely although potential for surface water and soil contamination should be thoroughly addressed also.”