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At the beginning of the year, Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced an agreement where Duke will close the remaining coal ash basins by relocating the ash to a lined landfill.

However, the closure plan comes with an $8 billion to $9 billion price tag.

“This agreement is centered around a prudent and reasonable plan for basin closure,” Duke spokesman Bill Norton said via email. “At the appropriate time, the company will seek permission from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to put these costs into rates.”

Norton said the N.C. Utilities Commission, which has to approve an increase in rates, has approved such increases to help Duke comply with environmental regulations before.

Norton said Duke strives to manage customer costs for service, which includes closing coal ash basins and responsibly managing waste.

State Sen. Vickie Sawyer said via email that she and Rep. Jeff McNeely were concerned about Duke’s payment plan. However, the utilities commission has the final say on whether Duke can raise rates.

“As legislators, it is one of our top priorities to keep the money of hard-working North Carolinians in their pockets,” Sawyer said.

“While the settlement agreement between the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Duke Energy is intended to protect the citizens of North Carolina, they shouldn’t be left as casualties of the agreement with the ultimate responsibility of paying for the cleanup through higher rates.”

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