Duke Energy to appeal $25M fine by N.C. environmental regulators

 Duke Energy to appeal $25M fine by N.C. environmental regulators

Caption: Duke Energy's L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Power Plant. Courtesy: Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) will appeal a $25.1 million penalty, imposed by North Carolina environmental regulators, over groundwater violations at the retired L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant.

On March 10, 2015, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) handed down the fine for the Wilmington, North Carolina facility. Duke Energy argues that NCDENR exceeded its authority and failed to follow proper protocols. The utility will include details of the argument in its appeal, which will be filed with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings by April 9.

In 2013, monitoring data indicated that polluted groundwater — from a pair of unlined coal ash pits estimated to hold 2.6 million ton of ash — was starting to move in the direction of the Flemington community, which gets its water from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) wells near the power plant. Since then, studies have shown that the water supply is safe and continues to meet federal and state drinking water standards.

Duke Energy later announced plans to close 32 ash basins across North Carolina, beginning with Asheville, Dan River, Riverbend, and Sutton. Duke Energy is currently waiting for the state to issue new wastewater permits, which Duke Energy applied for in 2014, to begin closing the ash basins. The permits are expected to be issued in the coming months.

According to the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Duke Energy fell 68 cents to $76.12 in Tuesday morning.

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