CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy today issued the following statement in response to ash basin closure rankings announced by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).
Today's announcement is an important milestone in the development of long-term closure solutions for coal ash basins, which store non-hazardous material. However and equally important, it acknowledges that work is incomplete and changes to the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) are necessary in order to get to final recommendations.
If NCDEQ's proposed recommendations are allowed to stand, without review and possible adjustments based on additional new information, the state will have chosen the most extreme closure option that will have a significant impact on customer costs and hinder economic development. In addition, it will cause decades of disruption to communities, all without additional, measurable environmental benefits. Given the scope of work, there is significant risk in meeting excavation deadlines by 2024.
We will seek to clarify CAMA within 60 days to help ensure the law is implemented in a way that makes North Carolina a thoughtful leader on this issue.
The data and assessments performed to date demonstrate that ash basins are operating safely and the environment is protected but, at NCDEQ's request, the company is now conducting additional new research and completing facility improvement projects that we identified and pursued ourselves.
NCDEQ acknowledges that all basins except those already designated as "high" could be ranked "low" once that work is done and other steps are taken, including ensuring plant neighbors have the assurance of a high-quality water supply.
The facts, supported by the most robust scientific and engineering studies in North Carolina, demonstrate that ash basins are not impacting neighbor wells. We also recognize that for some, even that level of scientific rigor, may not provide sufficient assurance that their water is safe. We are exploring a range of options that give those neighbors peace of mind and will work with local communities and water utilities to begin addressing a myriad of questions on this issue. We believe all of our customers will benefit from this approach because it allows the company to pursue a range of closure options that are safe and cost effective.
"Low" rankings are supported by the science and engineering and provide a number of benefits to customers, communities and the environment, including:
- Allowing a range of closure options to include capping the material on site with long-term monitoring, a faster solution that would not require hauling millions of tons of ash through communities to new locations for decades to come
- Aligning North Carolina with other states in the Southeast and across the nation that are pursuing capping in place, which is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a safe and proven option, wherever possible
- Promoting the growth of safe coal ash recycling in construction materials and other uses, the only way to avoid permanent storage of the material
- Reducing total cost to customers when compared to excavation, which is more expensive without additional measurable environmental benefits
Decisions regarding basin rankings will impact our customers and communities for decades. We will continue to work constructively over the next 60 days on this important issue.
Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy, today issued the following video statements on today's announcement and the value of having a variety of closure options:
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