Duke Energy, a mammoth electrical company that serves much of the nation, is seeking to hike electricity rates for customers to help clean up their environmental messes.
Duke Energy Progress, a subsidiary of Duke located in North Carolina, is hoping to increase the rate customers would pay by a substantial 15 percent. The hike would affect 1.3 million customers located in certain areas of North Carolina.
That 15% increase in rate would translate into $477 million in revenue extra per year, a hefty sum of cash that Duke is hoping to put toward several avenues, one of which is cleaning up current environmental disasters they have created, as well as preparing for future disasters.
Simply put, Duke would like customers to help pay to fix their mistakes, as well as storing cash for their future environmental goof-ups.
The clean-up would take $66 million of the first year’s rate hike to reimburse the company for the amount they have spent cleaning up coal ash, as well as an additional $129 million towards future
Duke considers the cleanup of coal ash to be the cost of doing business in their industry, while residents are resentful that they are being asked to pay to fix the company’s mistakes.
From Associated Press:
Duke Energy said it stored coal ash in line with past industry practices and regulations. Just as buying and burning coal were part of the cost of generating electricity over the decades, so now is the expense of cleaning up the ash, it said.
The company is generating an average of about 150 pounds of coal ash a year for each household, Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said.
“It is our job to manage that appropriately, which we are doing,” she said.
The cleanup process removes the coal ash from waterways where it can pollute water supplies for downstream communities. Rather than considering this process something that is their responsibility, Duke is instead acting like they are doing a favor for residents – a favor for which they would like to be paid.
Duke only began their cleanup efforts in response to a change in federal regulations, as well as a major coal ash accident in which ash coated miles of the Dan River.
The company also pled guilty in 2015 to multiple charges related to the federal Clean Water Act, a verdict that cost them $102 million in fines.