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Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good
Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good -- Chris Seward|Charlotte Observer

Duke Energy to take ‘fact-based approach’ to ash ponds

Duke Energy says outside engineers will finish assessing its coal ash ponds, following a February spill into the Dan River, by May 31.

In a statement Wednesday that largely repeats what CEO Lynn Good wrote Gov. Pat McCrory on March 12, Duke said it will take a “disciplined, fact-based approach to evaluating long-term solutions for ash basins.”

Duke has said it will remove ash from ponds at its retired Dan River plant and the Riverbend power plant near Charlotte. It will continue moving ash from its Asheville plant to that city’s airport and accelerate closing the ponds at its Sutton plant in Wilmington.

State environment Secretary John Skvarla has called that plan, outlined by Good earlier in the month, as inadequate for its lack of detail. McCrory has said the state wants Duke to move its ash away from water supplies like Charlotte’s Mountain Island Lake.

Apart from adding the May 31 time frame for assessing its ponds, Duke added few new specifics Wednesday.

Duke said it has started engineering work, to be finished by year’s end, on a “broad range of potential options” for remaining ash ponds. The company has 33 ponds at 14 active or retired power plants in North Carolina.

Duke apparently is no longer considering closing some power plants as part of its response to growing regulatory and political pressure.

Good’s letter to McCrory had said Duke would convert three coal-burning units, at its Cliffside and Asheville plants, to dry fly ash or retire the units. Wednesday’s statement makes no mention of retiring the plants.

In a full-page ad in Sunday’s Observer, Good said Duke cares “deeply about getting this right.”

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