Duke Energy nears completion of conservation programs in Dan River region, finishes ash basin excavation

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  • Local stakeholders collaborated to identify environmental and recreation projects to benefit the community

  • Long-term monitoring of the Dan River finds a healthy ecosystem

  • Ash basin excavation at the former Dan River coal plant completed in May

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy today announced the substantial completion of a number of conservation and recreation projects the company initiated in the wake of the February 2014 Dan River coal ash release, along with the completed excavation of the two coal ash basins at the former Dan River Steam Station.

Now the federal government is seeking public comment on the Dan River restoration plan as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process, which is designed to address potential impacts from an environmental event.

In the wake of the 2014 ash release, water quality in the Dan River returned to normal in a few days, drinking water always remained safe, and continued testing has shown no impact on the river’s aquatic life – the long-term monitoring report for the river is available here. However, there were temporary losses in fishing and recreational use of the river.

With input from state and federal agencies, and guided by stakeholder feedback gathered in the fall of 2014, Duke Energy selected several local conservation and recreation projects that community members said were important to them, including funding the protection of three parcels of land along the Mayo River; removing a dam on the Pigg River; improving Abreu Grogan Park in Danville, Va.; and creating additional public access on the Dan River.

“These environmental projects conserve important land, improve aquatic habitat and allow more community access to nature and the outdoors,” said Paul Draovitch, Duke Energy senior vice president for environment, health and safety. “After collaborating with our neighbors, we moved forward quickly with restoration projects that would provide broad environmental and community value. We look forward to hearing the public’s feedback on this important work.”

Duke Energy proactively completed most of the projects outlined in the NRDAR restoration plan even before the plan was finalized. As part of the public review process, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior have now made a required court filing, which includes details of the company’s work and seeks comment before issuing the final report.

Details regarding the Duke Energy-funded conservation and recreation projects can be found as follows in the restoration plan:

  • Mayo River Conservation (p.17) – Acquisition and conservation of up to 618 acres in this corridor as part of the Mayo River State Park on both sides of the state line, protecting a significant aquatic habitat with at least 10 rare and listed aquatic species, and providing greater access and safety for the public to more than 10 miles of the Mayo River for recreation.
  • Pigg River Dam Removal (p.19) – Removal of a defunct dam to support recovery of the federally and state-listed Roanoke logperch through aquatic habitat restoration, fish passage, and restoration of aquatic connectivity within the Pigg River ecosystem. The project removed the last impediment to fish passage within a 72-mile reach of the Pigg River from the headwaters down to the Leesville Reservoir.
  • Abreu Grogan Park Improvements (p.19) – Closed for four months after the Dan River spill to be used as a staging ground for the Dan River cleanup; improvements increased access to the river and use of the park by a broader population in Danville, Va., as the only access to the 14-mile section of the Dan River designated as a Virginia Scenic River.
  • Establishment of Dan River Public Boat Launch Facilities (p.20) – Negotiation on potential properties is ongoing for one motorized boat access location or two non-motorized boat access locations.

Safe Ash Basin Closure

The company has made strong progress closing ash basins across North Carolina in a manner that continues to protect people and the environment. In May, Duke Energy completed excavation of the two coal ash basins at the former Dan River Steam Station, which closed in 2012 and was replaced with a combined-cycle station that same year.

Powered by natural gas, the 620-megawatt station is cleaner and more efficient, serving about 500,000 customers – nearly double the capacity of the retired steam station. In early June, third-party consultants confirmed the excavation was complete, ahead of regulator review for the Aug. 1 basin closure deadline.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Contact: Bill Norton
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