Duke, not customers, should pay for coal ash

Mar. 11, 2014 @ 04:57 AM

It’s a harrowing part of reality and one we shouldn’t be too happy with.

With the recent news of coal ash problems at some of Duke Energy’s facilities across the state, Duke officials are quick to suggest the cost of cleanup be shouldered by us … the ratepayers.

Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good suggested the customers of the largest utility in the country “shoulder the cost of closing the rest of the utility’s coal ash ponds across North Carolina,” the Associated Press reported.

The company has until March 15 to inform Gov. Pat McCrory how it plans to pay to secure 32 coal ash ponds located at 14 of its power plants in the state.

Good revealed the company’s thoughts while she was receiving a business award at Queens College in Charlotte Friday.

Oh, the irony.

She suggested that because the coal ash was generated over a significant period of time, disposing of the toxic material should be built into the cost structure of the company.

That can only mean Duke plans to ask for a rate increase from the state and pass that cost on to the customers.

There have been no cost estimates for the potential disposal, but you can guess it will be in the millions.

Duke has suggested clean up of the spill along the Dan River will not be passed on to consumers.

How gracious of them.

The suggestion that costs to protect the environment should be passed to consumers is insulting.

Consumers had no say in the disposal of coal ash, nor did consumers have any part in storm water pipe integrity coming into question, which caused the spill at the Dan River and has been cited as a problem in Cliffside.

We have a difficult time swallowing the proposal that Duke customers pay for something the company is solely responsible.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper told the AP he will oppose any attempt by the energy giant to pass cleanup costs to customers.

Duke is responsible for what happens on its property, not consumers. The cost to cleanup coal ash rests squarely with Duke Energy, not consumers.

If Duke proposes an increase in rates to offset clean up costs, it will be up to the North Carolina Utilities Commission to decide the validity of the increase.

We certainly hope the Commission does its job, protects ratepayers and shifts the burden of responsibility back to Duke.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Alex Moore, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.