STOKES COUNTY, N.C. — Residents of Stokes County and Duke Energy are at odds on how to eliminate the coal ash basin at the Belews Creek Steam Plant.
State law requires all coal ash basins to close by 2030.
At a meeting Thursday night, folks in the community had a chance to learn about Duke Energy's three proposals and voice concerns.
Here are the options.
1. Leave the coal ash where it is, and cover it.
2. Move the coal ash to a landfill at the plant.
3. Move some coal ash to a landfill and cover what's left.
"The single most important thing to convey is that no matter what option is chosen neighbors and the environment are protected first and foremost," Duke Energy spokesperson Bill Norton said.
Duke Energy wants the third option, to move some coal ash and cover the rest. It's what they are calling the hybrid option.
Norton says that plan will meet the deadline and have the lowest cost.
But residents and activists prefer option number two: move all the coal ash.
Duke Energy estimates that will cost almost three times what the hybrid option would and says that option wouldn't be done to meet the 2030 deadline.
Activists say the real concern is water quality.
"They're not having pictures painted of how it is to live in the shadow of the coal ash pond. They don't show the senior citizens that have stacks of bottled water and jugs that they are having to live off of," Walnut Cove resident David Hairston said.
Duke Energy says costs can range anywhere from $140 million to $470 million or even more depending on which closure option is decided.
Because nothing is set in stone, right now Duke can't say just yet how much your bill will go up. But what is certain, is customers will foot the bill thanks to a decision from state regulators.
Thursday's meeting was just one part of the process.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will take feedback and share it with Duke Energy.
Duke Energy then has until August 1st to submit their final plans.