Duke Energy is attempting to recover some of the costs associated with its estimated $5.2 billion coal ash clean up bill by suing the insurance companies that indemnified it under policies taken out between 1973 and 1986.
The suit, filed with the state of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County, claims breach of contract by 30 companies for failure to pay claims for coal ash costs at 14 plants in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. Duke purchased excess-level liability insurance from the 30 companies to provide coverage for its possible coal ash liabilities under (then) future legislative changes. The clean up costs now arising stem from leakage from Duke’s coal ash dump sites that the company concedes have been infiltrating groundwater “over a long period of time.”
Duke Energy released the following statement:
“Throughout its history, Duke Energy safely managed coal ash in ways consistent with industry practices and laws and regulations that were in place at the time. Today, we're making great progress protecting the environment around our basins, spending millions of dollars to comply with strict new laws and requirements that we, like other utilities, could not have anticipated decades ago. These insurance policies were purchased to help protect our customers from new costs imposed in a situation like this”.