Turning the Corner on Coal Ash


A year of strong momentum in ash basin closure culminated with a breakthrough achievement that puts the coal ash debate to rest in North Carolina. Duke Energy, state regulators and environmental groups agreed to a plan to permanently close the company’s remaining nine coal ash basins, primarily by excavation with ash moved to lined landfills.

This reasonable, common-sense approach protects people and the environment while keeping costs in check as much as possible, saving approximately $1.5 billion when compared to the full excavation order that state regulators issued on April 1, 2019. Duke Energy had appealed that decision; the settlement resolves that appeal as well as all other pending environmental litigation related to basin closure methods in North Carolina.

The company made tremendous progress safely closing its other basins – nearly 28 million tons of ash have been excavated across all of our service territories since closure began.

Notably, basin excavation was completed at several power plants: Dan River Steam Station (Eden, North Carolina), along with Sutton Plant (Wilmington, North Carolina), Riverbend Steam Station (Mount Holly, North Carolina), East Bend Station (Union, Kentucky), and the second of three basins at W.S. Lee Steam Station (Williamston, South Carolina).

In Indiana, Duke Energy received approval from state regulators for the closure and post-closure plans for several of its basins; discussions continue to move toward resolution on the others.

Systemwide, the company completed technology upgrades at its operating coal plants to take all ash basins permanently out of service, with the exception of Gallagher Station (Floyd County, Indiana) since it is being retired in 2022.

Production ash is now handled dry – either in lined landfills or recycled. Additionally, the company is nearing completion on ash recycling facilities at three retired coal plant sites in North Carolina to reprocess ash for use in concrete beginning in 2020.

Learn more about how we are leading the industry in safely closing ash basins.