Groups Face High Price if They Lose Appeal of Duke Energy Gas Plant

Two North Carolina nonprofit organizations concerned with climate change face a significant obstacle in their challenge to a new natural-gas-fired power plant near Asheville.

In March, the Public Utilities Commission approved Duke Energy’s $1 billion plan to build two 280-megawatt natural gas units. The Climate Times, based in Boone, N.C., and NC WARN, which is committed to watchdogging Duke Energy, argue that the power plant was fast-tracked without proper consideration of environmental impacts and the future economics of natural gas.

State law requires that the costs of delaying construction during the appeal process be covered by a bond, paid by the objectors if they lose.

The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission raised the bond on the two groups’ permit appeal from $10 million to $98 million in July, effectively barring their legal challenge. Duke Energy suggested $240 million, their estimated cost of delaying construction, after the groups appealed the first set amount. The organizations also plan to appeal the latest bond amount.

— Eliza Laubach

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