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Duke Energy to Eradicate Coal Ash from 4 NC Facilities

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Duke Energy Corporation (DUK - Free Report) has taken a remarkable step with its plan to shut down its coal ash basins permanently. The company filed coal ash excavation plans to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) for the ash stored at four of its facilities in North Carolina – the Asheville Steam Electric Plant, the Dan River Steam Station (Eden), the Riverbend Steam Station (Mount Holly) and the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant (Wilmington).

Per the proposal, Duke Energy will run the site-specific excavation plans to move ash from the sites in several phases. After the first phase, the plans also include steps to identify solutions for residual ash at each of the locations, which will be given to NC DENR yearly or earlier as required by the following phases. The company will subsequently recycle the coal ash.

Upon approvals, Duke Energy intends to move around 5.1 million tons of ash initially from the four sites.

In the Phase 1, coal ash from three of the four sites will be reutilized in engineered structural fill projects, including the continuing structural fill project at the Asheville Regional Airport and two new projects to be constructed at open-pit clay mines in Chatham and Lee counties. In addition, Roanoke Cement Company will use thousands of tons of ash for making concrete. Additional ash will be permanently piled up in an existing lined landfill. The company will utilize rail and truck to transport coal ash.

The inorganic residual matter of the burned coal is known as coal ash. Coal ash has been accumulated at various sites by companies which burn coal for running their plants. As of Sep 30, 2014, Duke Energy had seven active ash basins in North Carolina. If approved, the company will be on track to meet North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act, which has mandated the closure of all basins in the state by Aug 1, 2019.

This proposal helps Duke Energy to solidify its stance on the pro-environmental movement. During the third quarter of 2014, the company installed new internal coal combustion products to manage ash-basin facility improvements, maintenance and recycling.

As of Sep 30, 2014, Duke Energy had cash & cash equivalents of $1.9 billion. A strong financial position helps the company to pursue several initiatives to reduce pollution, which will subsequently help to conform to growing environmental mandates, going forward.

Duke Energy currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the same industry include Black Hills Corp. (BKH - Free Report) , The Empire District Electric Co. and PG&E Corp. (PCG - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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