Duke asks court to dismiss lawsuit

Duke Energy has asked a federal court to dismiss an environmentalists' lawsuit that aims to stop expansion of the Cliffside power plant west of Charlotte.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, which has fought the addition of an 800-megawatt addition to Cliffside on behalf of five environmental groups, filed the suit July 16.

The group claims Duke is violating the federal Clean Air Act because a thorough analysis of controlling emissions of mercury, a toxic element, was not done. It wants construction to stop until a new analysis is completed.

In its filing late Monday, Duke said it voluntarily sent the state in July an assessment of “maximum achievable” pollution controls. The assessment showed the plant needed no design changes, and neither state nor federal regulators have asked for a stop in work.

Delaying construction, the utility said, will hurt customers who demand more electricity and the environment by postponing the retirement of older, more polluting coal-fired units at Cliffside.