• Proposed bill would prohibit customers paying for coal ash excavation

    By: Tina Terry

    Updated:

    BELMONT, N.C. - State lawmakers are getting ready for a fight because some of them want to stop Duke Energy from charging customers for coal ash cleanup.

    House Bill 567 says the Utilities Commission shall not allow an electric public utility to recover from its retail electric customers any costs related to the management of coal ash.

    The bill makes sense and should gain bipartisan support, Rep. Christy Clark, D-Mecklenburg, said on the phone Wednesday.

    [Duke Energy says it may not make deadline to remove coal ash]

    "We need to remember our No. 1 job is to protect the citizens in this state and by passing it, that would be a first step in that direction regarding coal ash,” she said.

    Duke Energy advocated for a less expensive cleanup option -- one that would be just as safe, the utility company said. On Monday, the state-mandated full excavation of those remaining coal ash basins.  Duke Energy has said that could cost as much as $10.6 billion.

    The company wouldn’t comment on the bill when Channel 9 asked about it Thursday. A spokesperson said Duke Energy doesn’t usually get into the specifics about pending legislation.

    Kenneth McJunkins, a resident near the Allen Steam Station in Belmont, said he wants the bill to pass.

    "I think they should have to pay for it. We didn't do it. We didn't make that mess,” he said.

    The bill has about 13 sponsors. The primary sponsor said if it passes, Duke Energy could challenge it in court.

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