Duke Reaches Agreement With North Carolina For Coal Ash Costs

Duke Energy Corp. reached an agreement with North Carolina and the Sierra Club over the costs of cleaning up waste from coal-burning power plants.

The proposed settlement set to be filed Monday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission would slash customers’ costs for closing coal-ash ponds by about $1.1 billion through 2030, Duke said in a statement.

The deal resolves the last remaining major issues in Duke’s long-running fight over cleaning up waste from coal plants, the company said.

Ratings agencies should view the settlement as a positive development as the company will also be allowed to earn a return on its coal-ash expenditures, Guggenheim Securities LLC analyst Shahriar Pourreza wrote in a note Monday. “Focus can now be shifted to working with regulators and legislators on clean energy-legislation” and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Pourreza said.

Duke Chief Executive Officer Lynn Good warned last year that a negative decision on recovering coal-ash cleanup costs from customers could lead to a downgrade from ratings agencies.

The agreement is a win for every Duke customer, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement. “I have long held that North Carolinians should not bear the full cost of cleaning up coal ash,” he said. “As a result of today’s settlement, we won’t — to the tune of more than $1 billion.”

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