CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy's chief executive officer Lynn Good on Thursday touted steps the company has taken over the last year to address serious problems at coal ash pits polluting the state's waterways.
She told shareholders that Duke has learned a lot from last year's coal ash spill at the company's Eden, North Carolina, plant that coated nearly 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. The nation's largest electricity company, Duke stores more than 150 million tons of coal ash in 32 dumps at 14 power plants in North Carolina.
She added that Charlotte-based Duke takes its "environmental stewardship ... very seriously."
But while Good tried to look forward, she was haunted by the company's past.
She was interrupted by demonstrators who say the $50 billion company is blocking people and businesses from putting solar panels on their roofs. Shouting "stop blocking rooftop solar" the nearly dozen protesters were escorted out of the auditorium. Duke has been opposed to a North Carolina bill that would allow residents to buy solar and other clean energy directly from renewable energy companies.
It didn't get much better when Good started fielding questions from the audience.
Some were critical of Duke's record on the environment, including several who were angry that the company was planning to move some coal ash to open clay mines in two rural counties.
And in her comments to shareholders, Good didn't mention that federal prosecutors in February charged Duke with nine criminal counts over years of illegal pollution leaking from ash dumps at five of the plants. The company has said it intends to plead guilty to the charges next week as part of an agreement requiring it to pay $102 million in fines and restitution.