N.C. Gov. Easley announces clean smokestacks agreement

RALEIGH, N.C., April 25, 2002 — Gov. Mike Easley Thursday announced agreement on a framework for clean smokestacks legislation that will dramatically reduce emissions without raising increasing electricity rates for consumers.

“This new clean air agreement is the result of months of hard work,” said Easley. “I made it clear to the parties that we must clean up pollution, but that we also must protect consumers. This agreement accomplishes our goal. With creative and innovative thinking, we developed a plan that will clean our air without emptying our pockets.”

The agreement was immediately endorsed by energy companies Duke Energy and Progress Energy, whose electric rates would be frozen for five years to allow for some cost recovery.

The agreement will:
* Lower sulfur dioxide emissions to 250,000 tons by January 1, 2009 and to 130,00 tons by January 1, 2013;
* Lower nitrogen oxide emissions to 60,000 tons by January 1, 2007 and 56,000 tons by January 1, 2009

The proposal calls for Duke Power to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from its fossil-fueled power plants in North Carolina by 70 percent by 2013 and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 33 percent by 2007. These emission reductions go beyond federal standards and are in addition to Duke Power’s investment of more than $550 million to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 75 percent by 2004 as required by the federal Clean Air Act.

The plan also allows Duke Power to recover most of the estimated $1.5 billion necessary to achieve these emission targets without increasing base electric rates or adding a cost recovery rider. This would be largely accomplished by allowing Duke Power’s current electric rates to be frozen for five years.

“We think the proposal is an innovative and creative approach that enables North Carolina to exceed federal air emissions standards for power plants in the most cost-effective way,” said Richard B. Priory, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Duke Energy. “It allows us to recover the costs of meeting very ambitious emission reduction targets while keeping current rates frozen for five years. Not only does that eliminate the need for the rider in last year’s legislation, it provides our customers with rate stability for the years ahead.”

“(The plan) is an important component of our regional clean air plan that we will be discussing next month at our Clean Air Summit in Charlotte,” Easley said. “It will serve as a model to other states across the country. We are going to pass a bill that reduces emissions, lung disease and asthma without increasing utility rates.”

Gov. Easley is hosting the fourth annual Clean Air Summit on May 10 in Charlotte, N.C. The summit will focus on state and regional initiatives to improve air quality in the Southeast. Governors and experts will participate in panel discussions on Health, Transportation and Energy. For more information on the summit, visit www.daq.state.nc.us/quick/summit.

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