Wednesday 05.08.2019

Duke Shareholders Strongly Support Proposal on Coal Ash Contamination

shutterstock coal burning for electricity

A shareholder resolution on the health and climate impacts of coal use filed at Duke Energy by shareholder advocacy group As You Sow and Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise received the support of 41% of Duke shareholders. This vote highlights growing shareholder concern about the risks created by the toxic coal ash residuals produced when Duke burns coal to generate electricity. The resolution specifically requests information as to how Duke Energy will mitigate the public health risks associated with Duke’s coal operations in light of increasing vulnerability of open coal ash pits to climate change impacts such as flooding and severe storms.

Two major storms in the past three years — Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence — resulted in coal ash breaches at Duke’s basins, demonstrating the ongoing vulnerability of its open ponds to extreme weather. Last fall, a group of investors representing more than $40 billion in assets sent a letter raising concern over Duke’s insufficient preparation for and response to storm impacts on its coal storage facilities.

“Shareholders are demanding that Duke Energy take responsibility for the impacts of its risky coal ash management practices,” stated Mary Minette, director of shareholder advocacy for Mercy Investment Services who is representing Daughters of Charity. “Thus far, Duke has given shareholders reason to believe that the company is not prepared to protect communities in an environment where climate change poses increasing risks to its operations. This vote sends the signal to Duke that it must respond to a clear lack in shareholder confidence.”

Recent reports have also demonstrated that contamination of groundwater is occurring to an alarming degree at storage sites operated by Duke Energy, putting local communities at risk.

“This high vote demonstrates that shareholders want Duke to address the risks inherent in its use of coal,” said Lila Holzman, energy program manager at As You Sow. “As the power sector moves from coal to renewables, there is less and less tolerance for unnecessary risk.”