Duke Energy CEO getting pay raise year after coal ash spill

Lynn Good
FILE- In this April 2, 2014 file photo, Duke Energy president and CEO Lynn Good gestures as she speaks to a business group during a luncheon in Charlotte, N.C. Good is getting a raise a year after the country's largest electric company confronted a coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday, June 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good is getting a raise a year after the country’s largest electric company confronted a coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday.

Duke Energy’s board of directors approved raising Good’s annual salary by $50,000 to more than $1.2 million, the only part of her pay package that’s guaranteed. Bigger boosts in incentives could push her potential annual compensation to $10.5 million a year, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Good previously topped out at about $8 million a year if she met short- and long-term goals.

“Her performance has been exemplary and the board is pleased with her leadership,” the company said in a prepared statement.

Duke Energy disclosed in March that its directors had docked Good’s pay about $600,000 in 2014, the year the spill happened, because the spill was expected to cost $192 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations. That reduction “was not a factor in the board’s decision to increase her compensation,” the company said.

The company said it spent about $20 million to clean up the Dan River after a pipe under a coal ash pit broke in February 2014. About $70 million more went to consulting, engineering, legal and other costs in the aftermath, the company said.

Duke Energy also negotiated a plea agreement with prosecutors under which it admitted guilt and will pay $102 million in fines, restitution and community service to settle the alleged Clean Water Act violations. The costs of the settlement approved by a federal judge in May will be borne by its shareholders rather than its electricity customers, the company said.

The company also faces further costs as it complies with a state law passed last year requiring the company to cap or remove all of its coal ash dumps by 2029. Four high-priority sites must close by 2019. It hasn’t been decided how much of those costs will be added to power bills.

Duke Energy has more than 7 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.

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Emery P. Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

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