The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has approved Duke Energy‘s (NYSE: DUK) Nationwide Environmental Compliance Plan and the Statewide Environmental Compliance Plan for North Carolina.
Both plans, said the company in a Jan. 11 announcement, provide for additional oversight and transparency into the company’s actions to comply with laws and regulations related to coal ash management. The compliance plans are requirements of a May 2015 plea agreement between the company’s subsidiaries – Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Business Services – and the federal government related to the February 2014 Dan River coal ash spill and ash basin operations at other North Carolina coal plants.
The company pleaded guilty to nine criminal misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act, agreed to pay $102 million in fines and penalties and is serving five years probation.
As a condition of probation, the three companies are required to implement two plans for ensuring future compliance with laws and regulations at coal ash impoundments nationwide. One plan – the Nationwide Environmental Compliance Plan (NECP) – includes all of Duke Energy’s coal ash basins, both inside and outside of North Carolina. The other – the Statewide Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP-NC) – contains additional obligations specific to North Carolina.
As part of the NECP and ECP-NC, the three companies make semi-annual reports to the court-appointed monitor on their progress in implementing the plans. The companies also make semi-annual reports on their progress in excavating and closing ash basins at four priority sites: Asheville Plant, Dan River Steam Station, Riverbend Steam Station and Sutton Plant. The monitor also makes an annual report to the federal district court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on Duke Energy’s progress.