As required by North Carolina House Bill 630, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has outlined its specific plans for providing drinking water assistance to residents living near its coal ash basins in the state.
Under House Bill 630, which recently updated North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act, permanent water supply plans are to be filed with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) by Dec. 15 and installed for eligible residents within a half-mile of coal ash basins by October 2018.
Key provisions of the plans include:
•Offering eligible property owners a connection to a public water supply and/or installation of whole-home water filter systems. Neighbors also will be given the opportunity to opt out completely.
•A preference to offer a connection to public water lines, where extending lines is cost-effective and water quality can be assured.
•Providing long-term maintenance to residents who select a filter system.
The company’s recommendations were developed with the help of Dewberry, an experienced outside consultant that worked closely with local municipalities and the public water systems in those areas.
These initial plans generally include offering public water connections or water filter systems with long-term maintenance to residents near:
•Allen Steam Station (Belmont, N.C.)
•Buck Steam Station (Salisbury, N.C.)
•Cape Fear Plant (Moncure, N.C.)
•H.F. Lee Plant (Goldsboro, N.C.)
•Marshall Steam Station (Terrell, N.C.)
•Rogers Energy Complex (Mooresboro, N.C.)
•Weatherspoon Plant (Lumberton, N.C.)
Filter systems, which are equally protective of water quality, may be the best option for residents who live in more remote areas farther from existing water lines, making it technically difficult and/or cost prohibitive to extend public water service and maintain good water quality over greater distances.
Residents near the following plants will be offered water filter systems and long-term maintenance to ensure a high quality water supply:
•Belews Creek Steam Station (Belews Creek, N.C.)
•Mayo Plant (Roxboro, N.C.)
•Roxboro Plant (Semora, N.C.)
Residents near Dan River and Riverbend plants are already served by public water supplies. Water plans for Asheville and Sutton plant communities are being finalized and will be submitted to NCDEQ by Dec. 15.
Neighbor input and choice are critical elements of the strategy. Once NCDEQ reviews and approves the recommended plans, the company’s community relations team will begin working directly with owners of about 950 eligible households in the state to discuss their specific options and ask for their selections before providing final community plans for state approval.
Duke will also offer a financial supplement
In the coming weeks, the company will finalize the details of a financial supplement to provide residents peace of mind by addressing concerns they’ve expressed about property values, new water bills or disturbance during construction or maintenance.
The cost of this program will be borne by shareholders and not included in customer bills, Duke said.
Scientific data continue to show that coal ash basins are not affecting neighbors’ wells, including a recent Duke University study that confirms hexavalent chromium is naturally occurring across the region and not originating from ash basins, the company said.
House Bill 630 requires the company to offer new, permanent water supplies and finish dam enhancement projects that are now complete. Once water supply installation concludes, the state must give basins a ranking of “low,” which preserves the full range of closure options, including safely capping basins in place with long-term monitoring. The company remains committed to completing this work in ways that protect people, the environment and wallets.
More information is available on Duke Energy’s program can be found at www.duke-energy.com/WaterPlans.