by Ray Hayes
Duke Energy Corp, one of the largest electricity companies in America, has reported that the company plans to make the playing field easier for minority-owned construction and hauling firms to compete for North Carolina’s coal-ash pit clean-up project. This move comes after the North Carolina state regulator pressured Duke Energy Corp to hire more minority-owned firms after it was reported that the state’s top ten minority and veteran contractors only received 1 percent of the $1.1 billion clean up funds for the coal ash problem between 2014 and 2017. According to Statesman.com, “The share of coal-ash work Duke Energy reported awarding minorities, women and veterans is much lower than goals set by the federal and some state governments.” The coal-ash spill happened in 2014 after a Duke Energy plant covered the Dan River. This incident caused the state to mandate the company close all plants by the year 2029.
The regulator mandate came in response to a minority-owned firm complaining that Duke Energy had not been clear on informing potential minority owned suppliers about the contracting opportunity.
Duke Energy Corp spokesman Jeff Brook spoke about the company’s responsibilities and future plans. “We are proud of the work we have done to increase supplier diversity and encourage participation by local contractors in our company,” Brooks said in an email. “But despite the progress we have made in growing diversity among suppliers, we want to do more and continue to improve that process. We are always looking for opportunities to educate interested groups and encourage more participation from diverse suppliers in the bidding process across all of the states we serve.”