Representatives from Duke Energy were present during Wilmington City Council’s Tuesday, April 15, meeting to respond to concerns recently aired about the management of coal ash at two of its Southeastern North Carolina power plants after the Dan River coal ash spill in February.
Speaking immediately after a presentation on the dangers of coal ash pollution by Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette and N.C. Sierra Club chapter organizer Zachary Keith, Duke Energy vice president of North Carolina community relations Mike Hughes said Duke Energy has similar concerns as the environmental organizations.
“I think at the end of the day we are all interested in the same things,” Hughes said. “We want safe drinking water, electricity when we flip the switch and we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish with minimal impact to particularly the low income customers. We want to make sure we do that in a responsible way and in a way that is based in fact, not emotion, and that protects all of our customers.”
Hughes said within the next 18-24 months Duke Energy would be providing a detailed plan of how the company is going to shut down the two coal ash ponds at the Sutton Power Plant. Those coal ash ponds cover about 155 acres and contain 2.6 million tons of coal ash.
“Our legislature needs to put in strong protections to make sure this process happens in an open and meaningful way,” Keith said. “We are the largest city and region in Southeastern North Carolina so we can send a strong signal that we want the coal ash pollution on our shores cleaned up.”
Burdette and Keith asked city council to pass a resolution for environmentally sound coal ash pond management, but the city council did not take any action.
The $1.2 million contract for the renovation of the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course was awarded to Duininck Golf, Inc., of Minnesota by unanimous vote.
City staff recommended the contract for $1.06 million to Duininck Inc. for the renovation of the course’s 18 greens and surrounding areas, but council members also include an extra $140,000 for the renovation of the practice putting green and 16 fairway bunkers.
The scope of the work will include new, larger greens with improved drainage and irrigation, new cart paths and the removal of more than 40 trees to cultivate more turf grass growth.
Wilmington Municipal Golf Course head pro Dave Donovan said Duininck is the premier company to work on a Donald Ross designed course and they would have been his choice even if funding were no concern.
To pay for the renovations, the course greens fees will increase by 35 percent beginning in fiscal year 2015 and an additional 10 percent in fiscal year 2016.
Donovan, along with city council and the citizen-led golf course advisory committee, said the increased rates would be worth it.
“It is going to be very different from what we have out there now, and I don’t think people know how good it is going to be,” Donovan said.
The course is expected to close before the end of April, and Donovan said it should reopen in September.