Not that there isn’t good reason to doubt just about anything that Duke Energy spokespeople say when it comes to the recent coal ash disaster, but assuming that the claims advanced yesterday that full clean-up could cost $10 billion have any validity at all, here is one very obvious and concise response that those who care about the public interest might want to offer up:
“Yes, and your point?”
Seriously, did anyone think cleaning up the mess would be cheap or fast? We get it, Duke and we’ve gotten it for years. Your giant and massively profitable mega-corporation doesn’t want to spend any shareholder or fat cat executive dough on something as mundane and bothersome as cleaning up your own mess. Isn’t that special?
Well here’s the deal — or, at least what ought to be the deal: You claim it’s gonna take 30 years to do the job. Well let’s say you get real busy real quick and cut that number to 15 years. That’s about $666 million per year. Last year, Duke made a profit of $3 billion. With inflation and population growth that number figures to rise. This means that, at a maximum, the cost of clean-up adds up, roughly, to a modest hit on Duke profits of about 22% per year. Somehow, Duke will have to get by of profits of $2.34 billion per year instead of $3 billion. This hit might even be reduced further if company execs cut their compensation packages.
Hear this Duke bosses? It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for you.
In other words, here’s what ought to be the bottom line response from North Carolina’s citizenry: Duke should be lucky if such a hit to its bottom line is the only ill that befalls the corporation.
Put even more simply: Stop whining and get to work.