Duke Energy, NC agency disputing fine for coal ash pollution

The nation's largest electric company and North Carolina's environment agency are negotiating over a fine of about $7 million to punish Duke Energy for a big spill of liquefied coal ash.

Attorneys for the state agency and Duke Energy Corp. said delaying Monday's scheduled hearing may help resolve the disputed fine for polluting the Dan River in 2014. Duke Energy has called the proposed fine disproportionate and arbitrary.

Spokeswomen for both sides declined comment.

Duke Energy also objected last year when the Department of Environmental Quality proposed an unprecedented $25 million fine for persistent groundwater pollution at a Wilmington power plant.

The agency later reduced that to $7 million and agreed to expand it to cover groundwater contamination at all 14 coal-burning Duke Energy plants in North Carolina.