Duke Sues Insurers For Help With Coal Ash Cleanups
Updated 1:43 p.m.
Duke Energy is suing 30 insurance companies over who should pay to clean up toxic coal ash at its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. The utility says any money it recovers in the suit will help reduce future rate increases to pay for cleanups.
Duke says it believes insurance policies it held until the 1980s may cover some costs of cleanups at 14 current and retired coal plants required under state and federal law.
All the companies had provided Duke with general liability insurance. Duke says the old policies should cover the costs of ash dumped years ago. So far, no insurer has agreed to pay.
Cleanups will cost Duke more than $4 billion in North Carolina. It's planning to ask state regulators this summer for rate increases to help pay for that.
"Our regulators expect that if we're going to ask customers to help pay for something, that we're doing everything we can to manage the costs,” Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said. “And that includes going out and recovering insurance dollars that we may be entitled to and applying those to the benefit of our customers."
The utility argues that the insurers should pay for costs of complying with new state and federal coal ash regulations issued in recent years.
"These insurance policies were purchased to help protect our customers from new costs imposed in a situation like this, so the prudent and appropriate thing to do is request payment on their behalf," Duke said in a statement.
Duke has already started cleanups at many plants. Some ash will be left where it is, and covered. Other basins will be dug up and moved to new lined landfills.
March 29, 2017, Duke Energy lawsuit against insurance companies at Duke-Energy.com
See past coverage of the coal ash issue on WFAE.org