Duke Energy to Cease Burning Coal at WC Beckjord Station

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Public hearings scheduled to consider costly bailouts for Duke’s other aging coal plants
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org
Daniel Sawmiller, Sierra Club, 419-733-3145, daniel.sawmiller@sierraclub.org

NEW RICHMOND, Ohio – Today, Duke Energy announced it will stop burning coal at the nearly 60-year-old Walter C Beckjord Station’s two remaining units, months ahead of its previously announced January 2015 deadline to retire 862 megawatts of coal electricity. WC Beckjord is located in Clermont County, the southern tip of the state. The coal plant was the site of a 5,000 to 8,000 gallon oil spill into the Ohio River last week.

Despite this announcement, Duke Energy has also filed a request to increase customers’ bills to keep burning coal at its other aging coal plants. The case is pending before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio with hearings set to begin September 8 in Cincinnati.

“Duke’s decision to transition away from coal at WC Beckjord proves that its leaders can take a stand on dirty energy,” said Daniel Sawmiller, campaign representative for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal in Ohio. “Duke Energy’s request to bail out its other coal plants should be denied. They are polluting the air in Ohio and expecting electricity customers to foot the bill. It’s unfair.”

WC Beckjord coal plant has cost Ohioans close to $1.5 million a year in public health costs, according to a 2014 Clean Air Task Force study.

The decision to expedite the coal plant’s retirement follows the release of a new poll by Public Policy Partners that shows more than two-in-three Ohio electricity customers (68 percent) say they would be more favorable towards their electric utility if it replaced electricity from coal with electricity from clean energy such as wind and solar, with 45 percent saying they would be "much more favorable." According to the poll, the majority of Ohio electricity customers say they think the state should be investing more in renewable energy like solar and wind.

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