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Duke Energy badly fumbled the political/PR ball on the coal-ash spill. Duke should have quickly rolled out a clear plan to clean up the Dan River and to deal with long-term management of ash ponds.
All we heard was the CEO saying ratepayers would pay. Politicians filled the void with preaching, posturing and their own policy proposals. Now Duke is floating down the political river taking on water.
But let’s be honest here. For the last 40 years, state government – and regulators – tacitly or expressly supported what Duke did. Why? Because it was cheap to use coal to generate electricity. And the ponds were the cheapest way to store the ash. That meant North Carolina could offer cheap, plentiful electricity to industry. Which helped build a booming manufacturing economy – and employ tens of thousands of people.
Now the question is what to do with the stuff. The quantity is so enormous and the ash so repugnant that there’s simply nowhere to send it. Even if you could move it, it would be the state’s largest project ever: billions of dollars and a decade or more.
There is a parallel to the nation’s storage of nuclear fuel waste. Tens of billions of dollars (ratepayer dollars) were spent on Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. Politicians (Sen. Harry Reid) vetoed Yucca, so the nuclear waste continues to be stored at individual nuclear sites around the country. The billions of dollars were wasted. And nothing was done.
Given Duke’s cluelessness and the state of politics today, how do you think this one is going to work out for you?


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One comment on “Duke Up the River

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, first of all, it’s all too obvious that you continue to post diaries here about the troubles Duke Power is having with their coal ash situation because you want to tie McCrory & Co. to it. You want people that read your presentations to believe that because McCrory worked for years at Duke Power, he’s culpable in this mess somehow. The mess, of course, was started way back decades ago as you’ve said here and it all happened under democratic rule in our state which means it was when democrats were in charge of the utilities commission and responsible for the agencies that were supposed to inspect and approve sites for coal ash depositories. So, even though some of the kool-aid drinking radical liberal/progressive “TAPsters” that read your stuff here will believe it’s all a McCrory mess…most folks know what’s up in this.

    Having said that, I WILL hold McCrory & Co. directly responsible if they are lax in going after Duke Power going forward. And, I’m a Duke Power rate payer just like everyone else and no way do I think it is my responsibility to pay for ANYTHING that Duke Power needs to correct and clean up in this mess. It’s a part of doing business. Of course, they will be able to “write off” the expenses with some easy accounting maneuvers and so forth, so at the end of the day, the state is gonna suffer from less taxes from Duke Power.

    Politically speaking, McCrory only needs to look and act just a wee bit mean toward Duke in this situation and he’s going to actually end up coming out about “even” politically. By that I mean that after this has settled down (even after the Moral Monday Duke Power NAACP actions planned), no one that was going to vote for McCrory in the first place will suddenly vote against him. So, even though it’s fun for the left in our state to go after McCrory all over the place right now, it’s gonna be a political wash for him come 2016.

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