Duke Energy will spend $4.4 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a $975,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement reached with the EPA and US Department of Justice.
The settlement, announced yesterday, resolves long-standing claims that Duke violated the federal Clean Air Act by unlawfully modifying 13 coal-fired electricity generating units located at the Allen, Buck, Cliffside, Dan River, and Riverbend plants across North Carolina, without obtaining air permits and installing and operating the required air pollution control technologies.
Duke recently shut down 11 of the 13 units, and under the settlement those shutdowns also become a permanent and enforceable obligation under the consent decree. At the remaining two units, Duke must continuously operate pollution controls and meet interim emission limits before permanently retiring them. In addition, the settlement requires that Duke retire another unit at the Allen plant.
The EPA estimates that the settlement will reduce emissions by about 2,300 tons per year from the three Allen units, as compared to recent emission levels. With these additional retirements, total emissions from all 13 allegedly modified units —which were in excess of 51,000 tons in 2000 when the suit was filed — will be zero.