Customers in Carolinas to Foot Coal Ash Costs

The public staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, charged with protecting customer interests in utility cases, agreed on December 22 (Docket E-22 Sub 532)  that Dominion North Carolina Power could recover $4.3 million worth of  coal-ash cleanup costs incurred to date from its customers, according to a December 29 report by the Charlotte Business Journal.

The commission identified that dollar amount as the state’s share of more than $84 million Dominion  has spent on coal-ash wastewater cleanup across its Virginia and North Carolina service areas.

Staff Executive Director Chris Ayers told the local news outlet that the order confirms that a utility may recover appropriate ash-remediation costs from ratepayers.

Overall, the commission’s order approved a rate increase of $34.732 million for DNCP, which sells power to about 120,000 customers in northeast North Carolina. The coal-ash costs represent a minor part of that total.

The costs for the ash remediation are being amortized over five years to soften the impact on customers, the Business Journal said. And the commission took pains to make clear that this ruling does not commit it to future action.

The North Carolina order comes just two weeks after the South Carolina Public Service Commission – setting a precedent for the Carolinas – approved a rate hike for Duke Energy that will, over the next two years, enable the company to recover about $900,000 in costs for addressing the disposal of coal ash.

The South Carolina PSC limited its ruling to the case (Docket No. 2016-196-E) before it, the local news outlet reported.

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