- Oct 9, 1999
Now ain't this some bullshit? Duke Energy fucks up, and we have to foot the bill. And of course, Governor McCrory, who was a former Duke Energy exec ain't saying a word.
http://www.wral.com/duke-ceo-ratepayers-will-cover-coal-ash-cleanup/13460600/Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said Friday that ratepayers will shoulder most of the cost of emptying out the utility's 31 coal ash ponds in North Carolina.
Governor Pat McCrory, a former Duke executive who benefited from more than a million dollars in direct and indirect campaign donations from the utility and its employees, declined to take a position on Good's statement.
Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan stressed the company, not its customers, will pay to clean up the company's recent 39,000-ton coal ash spill in the Dan River.
But if the state requires the utility to close down and move its other existing ash pits, then ratepayers, not shareholders, will likely pay most of the cost.
Sheehan referred WRAL News to remarks by Duke Energy CFO Steve Young on a recent corporate earnings call, talking about environmental compliance costs.
"We currently estimate we will spend between $4.5 billion and $5.5 billion over the next 10 years, with $900 million expected to be spent in the 2014 to 2016 time frame," Young told investors on the Feb. 18, 2014 call.
"Approximately 85% of our expected environmental compliance investments will be in the Carolinas and Indiana. Both of these jurisdictions have a strong track record of allowing utilities to recover costs related to environmental compliance investments," Young said.
Cost "recovery" means a utility's ability to charge its costs back to customers in higher rates, rather than taking costs out of company profits, which would mean lower earnings for shareholders.
Duke Energy's profits for the past fiscal year were $2.7 billion, with shareholder earnings up 25% over the prior year, largely on the strength of the company's controversial merger with Progress Energy.
Asked whether the governor believes utility customers, rather than corporate shareholders, should be asked to cover the cost of emptying the company's ash ponds, McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch wouldn't answer.
"At this point were still gathering information and we have asked Duke to send their plans to DENR, but at the end of the day this will be handled by the Utilities Commission. The governor has stressed that there needs to be an ongoing public dialogue and that certainly applies to the cost of cleanup as well."