Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Sierra Club Hails Pending Retirement of Duke Energy’s Allen Coal Units in Gaston County, NC
Allen units join ranks of over 200 coal plants announced for retirement since 2010
BELMONT, N.C.—Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Duke Energy, and a coalition of conservation organizations that would end the burning of coal by three of the five units at Duke Energy’s Allen power plant in Gaston County, N.C., located near the city of Belmont. Under the proposed consent decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Duke must permanently cease operation of the units, totaling 605 megawatts of capacity, by Dec. 31, 2024.
This announcement comes after a 15-year legal battle, started in 2000, when the EPA—joined by Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and N.C. Public Interest Research Group, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center—filed suit against Duke Energy for failing to secure the required permits and to operate necessary pollution controls for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter at 13 coal units at five different coal plants in North Carolina. Of the units that were part of the lawsuit, only Allen units 1 and 2 are still operating.
The consent decree also requires Duke to limit its air pollution emissions, to spend $4.4 million dollars in environmental mitigation projects for clean air—including including an electric vehicle infrastructure project, a project to replace old wood-stoves, and $600,000 for energy efficiency programs—and to pay $975,000 in civil penalties.
In response, Kelly Martin, Senior Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign issued the following statement:
“Today’s settlement agreement, once approved by the court, will set in motion the retirement of three more coal units in North Carolina, and the units at Duke Energy’s Allen coal plant will join the ranks of over 200 coal plants that have been announced for retirement since 2010. Retiring three dirty, outdated coal units at the Allen means Charlotte-area residents will breathe easier.
North Carolinians deserve clean energy and the benefits of clean air, clean water, and a stable climate. As utilities and energy companies realize that coal is an increasingly bad investment, they are transitioning their resources to cleaner, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. Given the rapidly declining cost of solar and wind power and recent advancements in battery storage technologies, Duke Energy should utilize low-cost clean energy options when these units cease burning coal and not double down on climate-disrupting fossil fuels by building another natural gas plant.”