No $98 million bond, no appeal of Duke Energy power plant

Duke Energy’s current Asheville power plant.
Duke Energy’s current Asheville power plant. Duke Energy

North Carolina utility regulators have dismissed the appeal of a nonprofit advocacy group that was told to post a $98 million bond to contest a Duke Energy power plant in Asheville.

Duke has argued that months of appeals by an opponent that often tangles with the utility but rarely wins, Durham-based NC WARN, could drive up costs of the $1 billion project by up to $250 million.

NC WARN has called the high bond Duke argued for a bullying tactic intended to squash its appeal.

In any case, state law says opponents of new power plants have to compensate utilities for the cost of construction delays caused by failed appeals of state permits.

The state Utilities Commission approved the Asheville power plant in March.

NC WARN and the Climate Times appealed and proposed that they post a $250 bond. Duke wanted the bond set at $50 million.

The Utilities Commission set a $10 million bond. In June, the N.C. Court of Appeals, at WARN’s request, ordered the commission to recalculate the bond based on “competent evidence.”

After a hearing, the commission reset the bond – this time at $98 million. It gave WARN five days to post the bond. WARN again appealed to the commission, which responded Tuesday.

The commission ruled that “the law is clear,” saying WARN failed to post the money needed to present its appeal. More filings with the appeals court are expected.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender