The CEO of Duke Energy says ratepayers will pay to close the coal ash ponds around North Carolina.
Outrage is ensuing.
From the Charlotte Observer (via Carolina Public Press):
Duke Energy expects its 3.2 million North Carolina customers to pay the costs of closing its ash ponds, CEO Lynn Good said Friday.
Duke is preparing a response to Gov. Pat McCrory’s request last week that his former employer supply options, costs and other details for dealing with its ash ponds by March 15.
McCrory’s demand added to the pressure on Duke, after a disastrous spill last month on the Dan River, to move millions of tons of ash away from water supplies such as Charlotte’s Mountain Island Lake.
Duke is making it just as clear that closing its ponds will be an expense – likely to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars – that customers should pay. Duke has said the company and its stockholders will pay the costs of cleaning up the Dan River.
Democratic NC Attorney General (and Gubernatorial candidate-in-waiting) Roy Cooper says customers shouldn't have to pay.
"Duke Energy should clean up the coal ash at its own expense, and we will fight for consumers if the company tries to charge them,” Cooper said in a statement.
So, should Duke be able to pay for the costs of removing the ponds with money generated by ratepayers? Or should it come from stockholders who would see reduced dividends? What about the retirees who are living off these dividends?
If Duke is going to seek state approval for higher rates to pay off the costs, will state regulators allow them to do so?
And, ethically, if we're the ones who have been buying the energy that produced the coal ash in the first place, aren't we responsible for paying for the clean-up, too?
And wouldn't increasing the rates to pay for the clean-up create greater incentives for alternate energy?