Duke Energy is asking a state court to intervene in a dispute with environmental regulators over whether the company should excavate coal ash pits at six power plants.
The state Department of Environmental Quality issued an order in the spring that said Duke Energy would have to remove and bury the coal ash rather than cap it in place. An administrative judge upheld the order, but Duke Energy now wants a state superior court to weigh in.
The cost of excavation would be $4 to 5 billion more than capping the pits in place, according to Duke Energy Spokeswoman Paige Sheehan.
“Coal ash basins can be safely closed by capping them,” Sheehan said. “It can be done quickly, much less expensively and much less disruption to our customers and communities when you compare it to excavation.”
Duke Energy has previously passed the cost of coal ash cleanup on to its customers. DEQ maintains the excavation order is in the best interest of public health and the environment.