Residents near coal ash plant upset about Duke Energy rate hike

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A stretch of Flemington Road in New Hanover County. Residents there have dealt with problems from coal ash for years (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Dealing with coal ash is nothing new for residents along Flemington Road in New Hanover County.

They say coal ash has contaminated their water for years.

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Now, Duke Energy is increasing its rates for customers like Kenneth Sandlin, who lives near the Sutton Steam Plant.

He says he is upset about the rate hike because he feels it’s Duke Energy’s responsibility to clean up.

“I really don’t think it’s fair for them to ask us or any of the residents of North Carolina to foot the coal ash bill,” Sandlin said. “They’re responsible for it. They’ve had people that knew how to handle the stuff all these years, and they didn’t handle it like it should have been done.”



Duke Energy was hoping for a $478 million rate hike, which would have worked out to a 15 percent increase.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved a smaller amount on Friday, $232 million over five years for coal ash costs.

The company released a statement Monday:

“We are currently evaluating the North Carolina Utilities Commission’s order and its exact impacts on customer rates, which will remain below the national average even after new rates go into effect. This transparent and thorough process with the NCUC and other stakeholders appears to have produced a result that balances the needs of customers and the company. Our investments over the past several years have helped transition to cleaner energy sources, while we safely close ash basins in ways that protect people and the environment.”

Meanwhile, Sandlin and others who live near coal ash ponds are part of a class action lawsuit filed over the summer against Duke Energy.

The Utilities Commission also assessed a $30 million penalty to Duke Energy for shortcomings in coal ash management.