A bill that would require Duke Energy to close its 33 coal ash ponds could face a state Senate vote next week after its approval Thursday by the Senate Finance Committee.
Finance was the third Senate committee that approved the bill this week. The legislation will go before the full Senate on Tuesday.
The bill requires that ash be removed from ponds at four power plants regarded as especially hazardous because of their proximity to water: Riverbend, west of Charlotte; Dan River, where ash spilled in February; Asheville; and Sutton in Wilmington.
Other ponds would be closed according to their risk. The legislation creates a new, nine-member Coal Ash Management Commission to oversee the hazard ratings and closure plans for each pond.
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The bill creates a new regulatory fee that staff says would raise more than $2 million a year toward the addition of 25 more positions in the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican and the bill’s sponsor, made it clear the utility would pay for the cleanup.
“This thing must be paid by the utility,” he told the committee. “It cannot be passed on to the consumer.”