News | July 18, 2016

Duke Energy settlement over air pollution leads to boost for electric vehicles

Duke Energy will be spending $1.5 million to improve access to electric vehicle charging stations in its service area. The investment is one of the terms of the settlement reached in a Clean Air Act lawsuit against the utility in which SELC represented three North Carolina groups.

The company announced their plan Tuesday, saying it will provide $1 million to towns or cities looking to install public charging stations for electric vehicles and $500,000 to municipalities looking to charge electric buses.

This move is the result of Duke Energy settling a lawsuit the federal government initially filed against the utility in 2000 for failing to install up-to-date emission controls on power plants in the Carolinas—in violation of the Clean Air Act.

SELC represented Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund and Environment North Carolina in the case. The suit eventually came before the U.S. Supreme Court and, in an opinion handed down in April 2007, all nine justices agreed with SELC: utilities cannot extend the lives of “grandfathered” power plants and increase their yearly emissions without installing modern pollution controls.

In the intervening years since the Supreme Court decision, Duke has shuttered all the old, dirty coal plants targeted by our lawsuit except for three units at the Allen plant near Charlotte. Under our agreement, Duke will reduce the emissions from these facilities until they, too, are shut down.

Update: In September 2016 Duke Energy announced an additional investment in North Carolina renewable energy as a result of the same settlement. The utility will spend $300,000 to install solar panels at 10 schools across the state.

Read more here.