Under pressure for coal ash handling, Asheville coal plant to close

Duke Energy has announced the closure of its Asheville coal plant, where coal ash is currently being cleaned up thanks to the efforts of SELC and partners. (© Nancy Pierce)

On the heels of a guilty criminal plea for its handling of coal ash, Duke Energy announced today plans to retire by early 2020 its coal-fired power plant in Asheville, where coal ash excavation is underway, and build a solar farm on the site. Although the Asheville plant is equipped with scrubbers to remove some air pollutants, the plant has been entangled in litigation with SELC and our partners for years over water pollution from its primitive coal ash storage. Duke Energy committed last year to remove the coal ash to dry, lined storage. 

The decision to close the outdated coal plant altogether is welcome news, especially with the added solar power as well as new transmission capacity to connect the Asheville region to the rest of the state. This is a significant development as the Asheville plant is one of the first coal plants nationwide with modern air pollution control technologies to be shuttered because of its water pollution and climate impacts, and because alternative energy resources are becoming more cost competitive.  

But Duke Energy’s plan also relies on construction of a new natural gas plant on site, which is a missed opportunity for a greater investment in energy efficiency and renewables. As Senior Attorney DJ Gerken responded, "Closing this polluting coal plant is a good first step, but Duke Energy told the public last week that it is a different company and now it’s time to prove it, by helping North Carolina move beyond its dependence on fossil fuels and become a leading producer of reliable, renewable energy."  

More News

Georgia Power confirms coal ash ponds fail to meet federal restrictions

At least ten of Georgia Power’s toxic, unlined coal ash ponds sit dangerously close to the groundwater beneath them, according to the utility’s r...

Tennessee Wilderness Act will protect 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest

There was a present for Tennessee in the Farm Bill that recently passed Congress: The Tennessee Wilderness Act was included in the omnibus legisl...

Federal court throws out pipeline’s Forest Service approval

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a federal approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests and part of th...

Looking ahead to major energy decisions in 2019, Georgians demand Fair Energy Now

High power bills burden many Georgia families, but few know why that is or what they can do about it. To change that, SELC, Georgia Interfaith P...

Op-ed: Why we support the Chemours consent order

Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler and Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette laid out their case for settlement over GenX contamination in a piece publis...

SELC sues to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic

Southern Environmental Law Center attorneys today joined a coalition of conservation groups in filing a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration...

More Stories