Sheehan stressed that the company, not its customers, will pay to clean up the recent 39,000-ton coal ash spill in the Dan River. But if the state requires the utility to close down and move its other existing ash pits, then utility customers, not shareholders, will likely pay most of that cost.
The residents of North Carolina should be livid. Their major energy provider, Duke Energy, sounds like they’re gearing up to stiff the residents for the cleanup tab for the mess the utility made all on their own. If the residents think anything different, then they need to wake up and smell the coffee. As the above linked article from WRAL points out, North Carolina allows companies to recover costs associated with any financial investments made in regards to environmental compliance.
It’s a win-win for the utility, and a lose-lose for the residents. The company has profited from the activities that created the environmental issue, and now they get to charge their users more to cover the costs of cleaning up their mess. This is why I don’t like the idea of a private company having a monopoly on providing ANY utility service that people rely on for basic living. There is way too much potential for corruption with such as system, and even in the absence of outright corruption, the potential for abuse of the residents is high.
The governor of North Carolina had his campaign financed, in part, thanks to contributions from Duke Energy and its employees in excess of $1 million dollars in direct and indirect campaign contributions. In addition, Gov. McCrory is a former executive employee of Duke Energy and currently owns shares in that company as well. Right after the coal ash spill that turned the Dan River toxic, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had 13% of its staff cut in the Division of Water Resources. That department’s mission statement is, “to protect, enhance and manage North Carolina’s surface and ground water resources for the health and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina, and the economic well-being of the state.”
If you think it’s just a problem in North Carolina, then think again. Coal ash contamination sites are known in 37 states based on information found at Earth Justice. CNN ran a story back in 2012 about a small town in Georgia that had health related issues that were suspected to be related to a nearby coal-burning power plant.
I don’t know enough about this to say whether it’s a widespread and urgent issue, but reading the contaminants involved in these spill and the medical complications that can follow suit makes me question the quality of water we have to drink. We put our faith in those who provide services in the hopes that they don’t kill us off at the same time. It’s hard to make a profit from a dead person, unless you’re in the funeral business.