Duke Energy: Coal ash costs like tire disposal

RALEIGH, NC (AP) The country's largest electric company says charging North Carolina consumers the full, multi-billion-dollar cost of cleaning up coal ash dumps is comparable to tire stores charging customers an extra fee to dispose of an old set of radials.

Duke Energy Progress President David Fountain said Monday the Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary is simply passing along clean-up costs that regulators have dictated.

He spoke at the opening day of hearings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission on whether the company can raise power rates by an average 9.5 percent. Duke Energy Progress wants to charge North Carolina consumers an extra $305 million a year.

The state's official utilities consumer advocate thinks the company shouldn't pass along nearly $200 million a year to clean up decades worth of potentially toxic coal ash.