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Regulators Hike Environmentalists' Bond For Asheville Plant Appeal

Duke Energy plans two new gas-fired units near its coal plant in Asheville, which is being retired.
Duke Energy
Duke Energy plans two new gas-fired units near its coal plant in Asheville, which is being retired.

 State regulators have delivered another blow to environmentalists trying to block a new power plant in Asheville.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission says two groups must post a $98 million bond before they can appeal.

That's nearly 10 times the amount regulators originally set for an appeal by environmental groups NC WARN and The Climate Times. The commission says the bond is needed to pay Duke Energy's costs if the project is delayed.

The state Court of Appeals last month overturned the utilities commission's previous order setting bond at 10 million dollars. The court ordered regulators to say how they came up with the number.

After a brief re-hearing, regulators actually raised the bond to 98 million. They said it includes money Duke has already spent, damages for canceled contracts, and future cost increases for labor and materials.

Jim Warren of NC WARN says the groups will ask the state Court of Appeals this week to overturn the new bond order. He argues there's no precedent for the high amount.  

"The bond was clearly established to block our access to the courthouse. And we think that's unconstitutional," Warren said Monday.

Regulatorsapproved the $1 billion plant in February, to replace a coal plant that's being retired.  The groups oppose the Asheville plant because it will use natural gas derived in part by fracking. And they say it’s not needed.


July 8, 2016, NCUC.net, see the N.C. Utilities Commission order setting bond at $98 million

July 8, 2016, NCWARN.org, response to commission's order.

Copyright 2016 WFAE

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.
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