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BreakDown: The Danville/Duke Energy Settlement

We’ve got our copy of the official Danville/Duke Energy settlement agreement for the coal ash spill. Let’s look at it and then do a comprehensive look at what’s in it.

Let’s do a BreakDown.

We covered a lot of the reasoning behind this settlement in the article from two weeks ago. Here’s the link for reference.

First, here’s the full agreement for you to read.

Nine pages. But there’s a lot in there for us to talk about, so let’s bring on the BreakDown Big Board.

  • The first 3 1/2 pages are full of “Whereas” statement of either fact or agreement. Let’s look at some of the interesting ones.
  • #8 tells us that Duke Energy has already paid Danville $107,600 for costs incurred during the coal ash spill.
  • #9 tells us that Danville’s drinking water was totally safe and remained totally safe during the spill and the aftermath.
  • #9 also tells us that all state and federal environmental agencies agree that water quality testing wasn’t needed anymore.
  • #11 tells us that no more coal ash deposits were found nor expected to be found in the future.
  • #14 tells about the $10,000,000 Water Resources Fund that Duke Energy created for ongoing water-related projects.
  • #17 is the most interesting one. It basically says that Danville claimed reputation damages and Duke Energy said “Horsecrap!” to that.
  • That would have been the only “damages” that Danville could have sought if they had decided to go to trial. Needless to say, that would have been a tough burden to prove. Danville would have also racked up very expensive legal bills in that fight, with Duke Energy having almost unlimited legal resources to fight at every step of the process.
  • #18, the last one, says “Let’s Make A Deal” because Danville knows they’d have a horribly uphill battle proving that one claim that they have..
  • The first part of the deal is the Cash Jackpot. It’s an oddly specific amount of $1,368,000. That number has to be that oddly specific for a reason, and I’m betting that reason is the amount of legal fees that Danville racked up with environmental lawyer Charlie Williams & his team. $838,000 on that money is coming in now, and some of that amount goes to the lawyers. The last $550,000 comes in at the first of 2017.

Now let’s look at the second part of the settlement…

  • $15,000 for water quality testing.
  • $30,000 for a real-time early warning detection system at Danville’s water intake from the Dan River.
  • $19,673 for what’s left of some consultant bill for a water quality study.
  • $222,000 to complete the Riverwalk Trail addition beside the old Plaza Cinema Dan River Church at the Danville Plaza shopping center.
  • $289,977 to fully complete the Riverwalk Trail to the Robertson Bridge.
  • $200,000 for the architectural and engineering plans for the yet-to-be-announced Riverfront Park. That’s going to be at the lower end of the White Mill parking lot. The city got that land as part of a penalty settlement when Gibbs International’s plans fell thorough on the White Mill renovation project. There’s going to be a small amphitheater there as well as access to the Dan River. This unannounced development was also why Public Works was working on a plan to demolish the small dam by the White Mill.
  • Note that the $200,000 is only for design of the unannounced project. Money to build that park will have to come from somewhere else.
  • Duke Energy isn’t dumb. Each of these payouts only come once Danville City Council passes a resolution enabling each one of those line items. No resolution? No money. The settlement also locks the city into using the money only for those specified projects, and nothing else.

And let’s look at the rest of the contract…

  • This settlement is the “Final Answer”, and the dramatic three-note music cue plays like on “Millionaire”.
  • Duke Energy says that they didn’t do anything wrong. Danville says that they didn’t do anything wrong.
  • Danville doesn’t say anything bad about Duke Energy. Duke Energy doesn’t say anything bad about Danville.

Everybody wins, nobody loses. Danville doesn’t have to roll the dice in a court and Duke Energy saves a lot of their unlimited legal expense money not having to fight Danville.

And there you have it. A comprehensive look at the Danville/Duke Energy settlement and everything that’s inside it.

We call that a BreakDown. And it’s only here at SouthsideCentral.

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