Today, the N.C. Senate Rules Committee approved a proposed committee substitute for House Bill 630 which establishes a responsible, affordable solution for coal ash management in North Carolina. Without this solution in place, Duke Energy would have been required to carry out an across-the-board excavation of 32 coal ash basins beginning July 17 without the benefit of being able to follow the safest environmental management approaches for each basin.
Cost projections for a full excavation could approach $10 billion – costs that would ultimately accrue to utility consumers, particularly businesses, in the form of an increased tax on energy consumption. Therefore, by giving North Carolina the ability to pursue a range of safer closure options and create a sound strategy for the reuse of remediated coal ash, House Bill 630 will ultimately save North Carolina job creators a significant amount of money on your bottom lines.
In addition to its cost-saving benefits, the responsible plan put in place by House Bill 630 provides solutions for all of the major issues involved in coal ash remediation. It requires the provision of permanent, clean drinking water to all residents within one half-mile of any coal ash basin. It provides a path for Duke Energy to identify three basins where large-scale remediation units can then be installed to provide a significant source of remediated coal ash for beneficial use by the state’s concrete industry. And it allows the Department of Environmental Quality to follow proven, established scientific guidelines that align with the Coastal Area Management Act or the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals rule to address the unique requirements of remaining coal ash basins.
The NC Chamber was one of the organizations that recognized early on the potential negative cost impacts that could accrue to North Carolina’s job creators and other energy consumers if the state did not adopt a responsible approach to coal ash management. Throughout the negotiations around this issue we have consistently provided a reasonable voice on behalf of business. We are pleased with the plan created by House Bill 630 and encouraged by the spirit of mutual compromise among stakeholders that allowed this plan to come together. Businesses and families that buy electricity from Duke Energy can now enjoy certainty and predictability as to how much more expensive their energy costs will be over the next few years.
We thank members of the Senate Rules Committee for approving the PCS and feel confident that elected leaders will ensure House Bill 630 is passed into law before the end of the 2016 session.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber