Duke Energy will offer to pay $5,000, plus other stipends to property owners whose wells are within a half-mile of coal ash basins, the utility announced late this afternoon. Duke Energy_release_watersolution
In a news release, Duke Energy said it had received approval from the NC Department of Environmental Quality to offer new permanent water supplies to the neighbors.
The plan includes payments to residents for connections to public water supplies as well as a $10,000 water filtration system for residents who select it.
- The company will offer a $5,000 goodwill payment per property to support the transition to a new water supply.
- Duke Energy will provide all eligible residential property owners a property value protection plan. If a homeowner sells his or her property (or is under contract to sell) before Oct. 15, 2019, and does not receive fair market value, Duke Energy will cover the difference in price.
- In communities where a public water supply is available and selected, neighbors will receive a stipend to cover approximately 25 years of water bills. The payment will be based on water rates in their community and an average residential usage of 5,000 gallons a month. The stipends range from nearly $8,000 to $22,000, depending on the local water rate.
- Neighbors who select the sophisticated water treatment option will benefit from the value of the approximately $10,000 system, plus long-term maintenance paid by the company.
No resident is required to accept the money or the water supply.
By providing these permanent supplies, the utility can choose to cap and close the coal ash basins onsite, according to state law.
Tests have shown that several wells near Duke Energy facilities have elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, also known as Chromium 6. But a Duke University study concluded that the contamination is naturally occurring, not from the basins. However, researcher and geochemistry professor Avner Vengosh said last October that arsenic and selenium in well water near those ponds does come from coal ash. “The impact of leaking coal ash ponds on water resources is still a major environmental issue,” Vengosh said.
In its preliminary approval, NCDEQ noted it will gather additional information about water quality standards and the treatment systems. Duke Energy said it will provide the agency with any information that it requests as part of that process.