Duke Energy to close remaining coal ash basins in N.C.

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Duke Energy Corp. has reached an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other environmental groups to close the utility’s nine remaining coal ash basins in the state. The news comes after reports coal ash from some of the sites has been polluting water sources.

The state’s largest utility is planning to excavate the ash and move it to lined landfills, similar to the process it’s implementing to close its coal ash basins in South Carolina. About 80 million tons of ash will be excavated from the remaining sites, bringing the total amount to be excavated to 124 million tons. The dig will mark the largest coal ash cleanup in the country.

“This agreement significantly reduces the cost to close our coal ash basins in the Carolinas for our customers, while delivering the same environmental benefits as full excavation,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy president for North Carolina. “We are fully focused on these important activities and building a clean energy future for the Carolinas.”

The settlement will reduce the company’s cleanup cost by $1.5 billion, according to a press release. The total cost of shutting down all 31 basins and cleaning up the ash in the Carolinas will range from $8 billion to $9 billion.

The excavation is expected to be completed over the next 10 to 15 years, and Duke Energy ensures that groundwater conditions will improve and comply with state standards by 2029.

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