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DEQ Grants Partial Closure Extension for Duke Energy’s Sutton Plant


RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) partially granted Duke Energy’s request for variance to extend the the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) closure deadline for two coal ash basins at the L.V. Sutton Energy Complex (Sutton Plant) today. DEQ approved a four-month variance, not the six months requested by the company, which will extend the closure date for the 1971 and 1984 basins to December 1, 2019, and will require monthly progress updates from Duke Energy.

Citing delays due to flooding following multiple extreme weather events, Duke Energy asked for an extension from DEQ in November 2018. The four-month extension only applies to closure and removal of ash in the two basins named in the variance request, the 1971 and 1984 basins.  

Additionally, the variance request requires Duke Energy to update the department monthly on the progress of excavation beginning in April 2019. Specifically, Duke Energy must report how much ash has been excavated and the estimated remaining ash in the two basins.  

The decision to grant a partial variance was made after a review of comments received during the open comment period that ended on February 4, 2019, CAMA of 2014, and the recommendations of DEQ staff. According to coal ash closure directives in CAMA, the Sutton Plant was one of the first closure plans proposed and approved by DEQ.

The original variance request from Duke Energy can be found here. Additional documents related to DEQ’s variance decision, including the hearing officer’s report, public comment responses and the final variance decision, are posted online at:

In 2018, Duke Energy proposed closure options for six other coal ash impoundment sites across North Carolina. More information on the closure options proposed by Duke Energy and currently under review by DEQ can be found on the DEQ website.

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