A settlement between Duke Energy Corp., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice puts to rest Clean Air Act violations at five coal-fired power plants across North Carolina.

According to the entities, the settlement resolves claims that Duke violated the federal Clean Air Act by unlawfully modifying 13 coal-fired electricity generating units located at the Allen, Buck, Cliffside, Dan River and Riverbend plants, without obtaining air permits and installing and operating the required air pollution control technologies.

Duke recently shut down 11 of the 13 units, and under the settlement, those shutdowns become a permanent and enforceable obligation under the consent decree. At the remaining two units, Duke must continuously operate pollution controls and meet interim emission limits before permanently retiring them.

In addition, the settlement requires that Duke retire another unit at the Allen plant, spend a total of $4.4 million on environmental mitigation projects, and pay a civil penalty of $975,000. The United States is joined in the settlement with co-plaintiffs Environmental Defense, the North Carolina Sierra Club, and Environment North Carolina.

The settlement also requires Duke to spend at least $4.4 million to fund several environmental mitigation projects. These projects include restoring native wildlife and plants on National Park Service and Forest Service lands in North Carolina, a program to help North Carolina residents replace higher polluting wood stoves and fireplaces with cleaner burning alternatives, and a program to increase the use of clean energy and energy efficiency measures in economically distressed communities. Other projects may include efforts towards increasing truck stop electrification and electric vehicle charging stations in North Carolina.