Lunching at The Palm restaurant in South Park on Thursday, invited guest Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good told a roomful of Hood Hargett group members that the company takes responsibility for spilling tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River.
"I want to say to all of you that we are accountable for this," Good said. "We've taken responsibility and we are prepared to move forward."
But talking to the press outside, she stopped short of saying that Duke Energy did anything wrong.
"You know, Dan River was an accident," she said.
Good did however acknowledge the critics who say she was slow to inform the public.
"You know, I appreciate that there are a number of people who have a point of view about the way we've handled the situation," she said. "What I will say to you is that I have been focused on Dan River from February 2nd forward."
Weeks after the spill, Governor Pat McCrory - a former Duke Energy employee accused himself of showing favoritism to the utility - demanded that Duke be more transparent. He also said the company should move its ash away from drinking water. But Good said the company didn't need any pushing.
"Duke has been involved responding to inquiries," she said. "We've been working actively at the Dan River site. We've put forward our short and long term plan."
Part of that long term plan could include billing customers for any big changes in its ash containment procedures. Talking to the crowd, Good said the utilities commission would make the final decision.
"You know the determination about cost, I appreciate the strong interest that everyone has in that question," she said.