Local lawmakers push legislation to prevent Duke Energy customers from paying for coal ash cleanup

Local lawmakers want to stop Duke Energy from charging customers more to clean up coal ash. Duke Energy says excavation at some sites could take decades and cost over ten billion dollars. 

“They made the mess so why should we clean it up?” ask Rodger Estes. He doesn’t want his bills to go up to cover the cost for coal ash clean up. 

Now lawmakers are pushing legislation to make sure that does not happen. 

“We want to make sure people can still afford electricity in their home and that they are not unduly burdened by the clean-up operations,” said Mecklenburg County Representative Christy Clark. “That is a responsibility of the organization that made the mess.” 

Clark is one of the primary sponsors on House Bill 567 that would “prohibit an electric public utility from recovering ratepayers any costs related to the management of coal” ash, according to the bill. 

This week the state also ordered Duke Energy to remove all coal ash from six sites across North Carolina, including the Allen Steam Station in Belmont and the Marshall Plant on the shores of Lake Norman. 

Duke Energy responded in a statement reading in part: Excavation at some sites will take decades, stretching well beyond the current state and federal deadlines. Based on current estimates and closure timeframes, excavating these basins will add approximately $4 billion to $5 billion to the current estimate of $5.6 billion for the Carolinas.

They previously supported a less expensive plan to clean up the coal ash, they say would be just as effective. 

“I’m sure if they can buy their way out of it they will,” said Estes. He has lived down the street from the Allen Steam Station since it went up. Now Estes worries the clean-up will hurt his wallet: “And if they can lay it on the middle man, we will get it laid on us.”