Duke Energy assigns new district manager for Guilford County

Duke Energy has shifted assignments for two of its 15 district managers as one of the company’s top community representatives picks up new responsibilities in Virginia.

As the clean up continues in the wake of the coal ash spill along the Dan River near Eden, District Manager Davis Montgomery has represented Duke across the state line in Virginia. Montgomery was the district manager for Alamance, Guilford and Rockingham counties when the coal ash spill occurred in February.

Duke Energy has no customers in Virginia, and at the time of the spill had no established government liaison with communities along the Dan River in that state, said Mike Hughes, Duke Energy’s vice-president of local government and community relations in North Carolina. Montgomery picked those duties up and has represented the company in communities like Danville, South Boston and Clarksville.

Hughes said that the company recognizes the river remediation and long-term plan to deal with coal ash will have implications for communities downstream from the shuttered Dan River Steam Station outside of Eden in Rockingham County. So the company split Guilford County from its previous grouping. Randy Welch, the current district manager for Cabarrus, Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties, will take over management of Guilford County.

In the new set up, Montgomery will focus on relations along the Dan River basin, from Rockingham County to the Kerr Reservoir. He will also continue to manage Alamance County for Duke Energy. Welch will manage Guilford, Rowan and Davie counties.

Montgomery announced the move in an email to local government officials on May 18. In the note he said his new assignment could last from one to two years. The new assignments are supposed to be in place by the end of this week.

Duke Energy is currently working to remove the largest deposit of coal ash identified, a 25,000-ton mixture of coal ash and river sediment that’s settled just east of the Schoolfield Dam outside of Danville. Hughes said the company is using a dredge to attempt removal. The work is progressing, but is hampered by recent rains that cause river volume to swell.

The company has taken over a municipal park in Danville in order to access the sediment deposit, according to Montgomery, and is paying the city $2,500 to make up for lost user fees. Montgomery said they hope to vacate the park in July.

Hughes said that a second, smaller deposit closer to the spill site has also been identified. Both deposits are stable, Hughes said, having settled beneath river sediment.

The long-range plan to deal with 100 million tons of coal ash in 33 basins across North Carolina will be an ongoing issue, Hughes said, that could be of concern to communities downriver.

He emphasized that Duke Energy wanted to have a liaison available during that process.

“We don’t know how long it will warrant, but as along as it is warranted, we will have somebody there,” Hughes said.