Coal Ash Wednesday: Hold on to your wallets

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Duke Energy looking to raise rates to pay for ash cleanup:

Duke argues that closing the ash basins, as state and federal rules now require, is part of its cost of doing business. That, it says, makes the company eligible to recover those costs by adding them to the electricity rates that consumers pay.

“We’re relying on the fair and well-established precedent in North Carolina that allows us to recover money that we spend to comply with environmental rules and regulations,” Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said. “We’ve managed coal ash properly for decades, so historically the Utilities Commission determined that those costs are recoverable and should be included in customer bills.”

Bolding mine, because damn. That is Trump-level nonsense right there. The Dan River coal ash spill dumped 46,594 cubic yards into the River, leaving at least a 2" layer of toxic ash on the river bottom for over 10 miles. Just to give you a reference on such volume, that amount of coal ash would fill 330 tractor-trailers. If that's managing coal ash "properly," I'd hate to see what mismanagement would do. Thankfully Josh Stein isn't under any delusions about Duke Energy's responsibilities:

Attorney General Josh Stein appealed the 2018 rulings, including the commission’s decision to allow Duke to add a profit margin to its ash spending, to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments are expected to be held in March.

“Duke Energy knew for many years that the way it handled coal ash was risky and could pollute groundwater, but it failed to act prudently when it should have,” Stein said in announcing the appeal last year. “And now, Duke argues that the people of North Carolina should pay the full cost of cleaning up coal ash.... I believe that Duke’s shareholders should have to pay their fair share of the total cost.”

In a 2017 case that’s still before the North Carolina Business Court, Duke sued 30 insurance companies that it said refused to reimburse the company for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in ash costs. The insurers have said Duke long knew about ash’s contamination risks but failed to address the threat.

Just a reminder: Shareholders have been paid a dividend every quarter for over fifty years. Also, Duke Energy has a separate account, that usually numbers in the tens of billions, just to acquire power generation facilities and infrastructure from other companies. They're not just a North Carolina monopoly, they're the biggest power company in the Western Hemisphere. They don't need to increase our rates to fix their own mistakes, but Leviathan does what Leviathan wants.

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Comments

We really need more local power coops...

to break Duke's monopoly of NC. It's long past time that we returned the public utilities to the, you know, public. Duke has been doing everything possible to keep all the power (in every sense) in their own corporate hands. We need to take that power back and use it to advance clean, affordable power generation and distribution for all North Carolinians.