Duke to pay $102 million fine for North Carolina coal ash violations

COAL ASH: Duke Energy pleaded guilty yesterday to federal criminal charges for coal ash violations in North Carolina, and will pay a $102 million fine, the largest in state history. (New York Times, Charlotte Business Journal)

• Duke admits in court that a $20,000 inspection could have prevented the Dan River coal ash spill. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• As part of its plea agreement, Duke will continue to cooperate in an investigation of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Charlotte Business Journal)

• Federal regulators reject a request for more hearings on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
• A developer makes an additional plea for approval of a Georgia natural gas pipeline, a closer look at the record finds the company has made misleading statements in the past. (Florida Times-Union, Savannah Morning News)

• Coastal residents in Mississippi, Virginia and other places will protest offshore drilling tomorrow. (Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Virginian-Pilot)
• The developer of a Gulf Coast natural gas export terminal says it was warned by the Department of Energy that it “would not be politically correct” to sign on Chinese customers. (Bloomberg) 

• Construction begins on a 30 MW solar farm at a Georgia army base. (Augusta Chronicle)
• The owner of a Virginia hunting preserve says he now supports a proposed solar project. (Fauquier Now)
• The Department of Veteran Affairs inspector general will investigate a solar project at an Arkansas hospital that has never been activated. (Arkansas News)

COAL: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, along with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, introduce bills to promote “clean coal.” (Charleston State Journal)

POLLUTION: While a challenge to federal mercury regulations awaits its day at the Supreme Court, most power plants are already in compliance with the rules. (SNL)

GRID: Entergy says its customers have saved $250 million in its first year as part of the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator. (Associated Press)

TRANSMISSION: A Virginia utility pushes back against assertions that it misled the public about the height of new transmission towers. (Waynesboro News Virginian)

POLITICS: Conservative clean-energy activists find support from environmental organizations. (Reuters)

HYDROPOWER: A stakeholder group drafts an agreement that could settle a three-state dispute over operation of dams on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. (Jacksonville Business Journal)

UTILITIES: Louisiana utilities admit to being unprepared for outages resulting from April storms. (New Orleans Times Picayune)

BIOMASS: An Alabama mill will be one of the largest producers of biomass pellets — which can be burned alongside coal — in the world. (WSFA)

• Duke Energy “doesn’t deserve to do business in the state of North Carolina or anywhere else.” (Greensboro News-Record)
• A Virginia utility is “paying lip service” to clean energy. (Russellville News Democrat & Leader)

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