The coal ash round-up: What you might have missed over the past week

COAL CUTTERS: The Buncombe County Board of Adjustment gave the go-ahead to a conditional use permit that will allow Duke Energy to begin construction on its natural gas facility. Duke says it plans to eliminate its Arden-based coal-fired operation by the end of 2019.

Three months after the coal ash spill that dumped 70 miles worth of toxic sludge into Dan River, Duke Energy is still dealing with the backlash and trying to figure out the best way to move forward.

According to a story published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Thursday, May 1, WNC pastors signed and delivered a letter to Duke Energy asking the company to shut down its Asheville power plant and focus on cleaning up coal ash facilities across the state by searching for a clean energy solution for the future. The full letter obtained by the Citizen-Times can be read here.

WNC pastors traveled to Charlotte Thursday to deliver the letter in person at Duke Energy’s annual shareholders meeting, which gave investors, company board members and protesters a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.

The Charlotte Observer picked up an Associated Press story that recapped some of the main issues addressed in the meeting.

Lynn Good, Duke Energy CEO, said that the company takes responsibility for the spill and is developing a plan to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s 33 ash pits in North Carolina. She then took questions from a total of 16 shareholders before concluding the meeting.

Good faced many criticisms for how Duke Energy has handled the Dan River spill, but other cases of contamination were brought to her attention as well, including coal ash pollution in both the Cape Fear River and the Catawba River.

All of Duke’s coal ash pits are located along NC’s rivers and lakes, and despite the pressure to clean them up, Governor Pat McCrory has no plans to force Duke Energy to move the pits.

The N.C. Ethics Commission disclosed McCrory’s financial holdings several hours after the meeting ended, listing McCrory as having no shares in Duke Energy. Just last year, he was shown to have had over $10,000 worth of stock. The governor previously worked for Duke for 29 years.

Questions now turn toward the future as both McCrory and Duke will have to find a solution to the coal ash problem. A report published May 1 by the NC Public News Service summarized the debate at hand, discussing whether or not Duke Energy customers will have to bare the burden for the company’s mistakes, or if the highly profitable company will take on the costs themselves.

A raise in pay rates for Duke Energy’s service would further add on to the damage absorbed by North Carolina citizens with increased pollution levels due to the coal ash, according to another report from the Public News Service published last Friday.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.