Duke To Pay Chatham County For Coal Ash Storage
Duke Energy and Chatham County have resolved a dispute over the transfer of coal ash.
To comply with a state law, Duke has to remove coal ash from four plants—including Riverbend in Mount Holly. Duke Energy has planned to move some ash to old clay mines in Sanford and Moncure. A contractor will wrap the ash in clay and plastic liners to prevent contamination and cover it with topsoil, work that Duke says will make the land reusable.
The county and residents have opposed the transport and storage of the ash, which can be toxic. Nevertheless, state regulators granted permits for the project two weeks ago.
Now, Chatham County commissioners and Duke have reached an agreement, where the power company will pay up to $18 million for the ash it moves.
“The agreement we voted on is certainly not everything we sought, because actions by the State of North Carolina prevent us from denying the site and have minimized our leverage,” commission chairman Jim Crawford said in a statement announcing the deal. “Even so, we have secured several important requirements that will help protect the safety and health of the community and natural resources.”
Duke will make a $6 million payment up front to move four million tons of ash, and agrees to move no more than 12 million tons total, at $1.50 a ton.
County manager Charlie Horne says the county will pay for additional environmental protections with the money, but could use any surplus for its general fund or capital projects.
As sweetener, Duke will also pay almost a half million dollars a year to the county and the Moncure fire department to make up for lost property taxes from its closed Cape Fear coal plant.