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Letter: Duke should pay costs for coal ash cleanup

In reference to Randy Welch’s Thursday column (“Digging up coal ash ponds is most extreme method”), I think ratepayers can be forgiven for the “ongoing misconception that customers have paid for repairs and remediation of the ash release into the Dan River in 2014.”

It wasn’t for Duke Energy’s lack of trying to get ratepayers to pay for the cleanup of the coal ash ponds. Fortunately, Duke Energy’s army of lobbyists and publicists just couldn’t get enough lawmakers and regulators to side with Duke in making ratepayers eat the costs.

And, yes, while ratepayers benefited from low energy rates while Duke pumped millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere and generated millions of tons of improperly stored coal ash waste, shareholders benefited handsomely from the deferred cost of responsible ash storage and disposal, too.

Obviously, deferring the cost of generating energy responsibly and handling waste properly as it was being generated to maximize short-term shareholder profits was not a great idea.

You can’t have it both ways. Face it: Duke Energy kicked the costs down the street. Now, it’s time to pay the piper. It is time for Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash mess responsibly.

— Michael Young

Salisbury

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