The state has settled a 5-year-old lawsuit with the Tennessee Valley Authority over emissions from its coal-fired plants.
The deal was part of a larger settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over TVA violations of the clean air act at 11 of its coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The settlement requires the TVA to invest an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion on new and upgraded pollution controls. It must reduce emissions by retiring at least 18 of its 59 coal units and installing and continuously operating emission-control equipment on almost all of the remaining units.
TVA also agreed to invest $350 million on clean energy projects to reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health. North Carolina will receive $11.2 million as part of the clean energy investment.
The four plants closest to North Carolina will be among the first to be controlled or shut down, Attorney General Roy Cooper's office announced today.
"North Carolina businesses will benefit with lower health care costs and more tourism dollars, and all of us benefit from better health, Cooper said in a statement. This agreement means our air will be more clear and our waters more clean. The settlement is a remarkable accomplishment and we are pleased that everyone involved could resolve it this way. Cooper, on behalf of North Carolina, had filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the TVA in 2006, claiming that the utilitys coal-fired plants sent polluted air into North Carolina.