Duke Energy's Appeal of State Decision to Mandate Coal Ash Basin Excavation Moves Forward

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Duke Energy issued the following statement responding to an order issued in the company's ongoing appeal of a decision by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) requiring nine coal ash basins to be closed by excavation. The company filed a case with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) believing that NCDEQ made the wrong decision for customers and communities.

The judge in the OAH proceeding entered judgement on some claims in the case; other claims continue to proceed. Separately, our Oct. 8 appeal to the state Superior Court regarding the OAH judge's prior rulings continues to move forward; we will evaluate whether to also appeal this decision to the Superior Court.

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Since 2014, we've made tremendous progress safely and permanently closing coal ash basins in ways that continue to protect people and the environment. We are setting an industry-leading standard with the scope and scale of our work. In North Carolina, for example:

Basin excavation is completed at Dan River, Sutton Plant and Riverbend Steam Station.

Water and ash flows have been stopped to all basins except the Asheville plant, which will retire, and basin water removal is underway at virtually every site across the state.

Three beneficial reuse units are under construction at Cape Fear, Buck and HF Lee.

Common sense and the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) tell us that basin closure decisions should be driven by science and engineering, but NCDEQ has chosen the most expensive, disruptive and time-consuming closure option for several basins – without any measurable benefit – when compared to other approaches. In the process, NCDEQ has ignored the costs that customers will bear and has ignored key aspects of CAMA.

While today's ruling is disappointing, we will continue working to protect people and the environment, within the rules as set forth under state law as we consider our next steps.