Updated Jan. 19, 2018 11:30 a.m.
EST The U.S. Department of Justice is asking a federal judge in Florida to order Duke Energy to pay $1.9 billion in damages to a group of Florida residents who sued the energy giant in 2015 for allegedly violating a court-ordered settlement.
The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by a group led by former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was then a U.N. ambassador, the Miami Herald reported Friday.
Bondi said she believes Duke Energy violated the agreement in a “massive scheme” to artificially boost the electric grid’s performance.
In exchange for the $2.8 billion in payments, Duke agreed to shut down its existing coal-fired power plants and turn its coal-burning electricity into gas-burning power plants.
“These allegations of misconduct were never proven,” Bondi wrote in her court filing.
“They are now.”
Bondi filed the lawsuit in the U.P. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the same district in which Duke Energy operates, the Herald reported.
The state of Florida did not return a request for comment Friday.
The settlement between Duke and the plaintiffs, who include the city of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, also includes a $2 billion cash payment to settle claims from people who were injured or killed as a result of Duke’s conduct.
Bonder’s lawsuit alleges that Duke Energy used a “system of secret, illegal and deceptive contracts” to obtain a contract to install more than 300,000 wind turbines in Florida.
The deal was approved by the Florida Legislature in 2016, and signed by then-Gov.
The agreement included a clause that provided for Duke Energy paying a fee to the state for each new wind turbine installed, but the state later found that the fee had been inflated.
The fee was set at $25,000 per wind turbine.
The new wind turbines have not yet been installed.
In 2016, Bondi’s office also filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state from using the $25 million payment to help pay for any costs associated with the construction of the wind turbines.
Bond, who is now a Republican, is now the U-S attorney for Florida’s 13th congressional district.
The suit also alleged that Duke had been paying contractors to construct a series of power plants at a cost of $3.5 billion that were designed to generate electricity but instead produced “dangerously high” amounts of carbon dioxide.
The suits were filed after Bondi began investigating Duke Energy in 2016 after her office received a complaint about the company’s pollution of the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast waters, according to the Herald.
Bondist claims the lawsuit was motivated by political reasons.
“It’s a sad day when a U,S.
senator wants to punish a company that he believes is engaged in illegal conduct,” Bondy said.
“This lawsuit was initiated to stop this type of misconduct.”
In a statement to The Associated Press, Bondy defended the actions of her office.
“The Florida Attorney Generals office took swift and decisive action to bring this lawsuit against Duke Energy and its subsidiary, the Duke Energy Corp., because the company violated numerous state environmental laws, including Florida’s Clean Water Act, the Florida Water Protection Act, and the Clean Air Act,” the statement said.
Bond’s office had not yet responded to a request from the AP for comment.
The Florida Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday.
Duke said in a statement Friday that it had nothing to do with the settlement, and it will fight the lawsuit.
The utility said the settlement does not affect its existing commitments to build and maintain its existing wind projects in Florida, but it plans to expand its planned wind projects by 20 percent to 35 percent by 2020.
Bond said she believed the deal was a good first step to help the state and its residents.
“I’m confident that the parties will continue to work towards a long-term solution to the ongoing litigation,” Bond said in her statement.
Bond also called on the U,N.
agency to investigate the allegations that Duke used an undisclosed amount of money to pay for the construction and maintenance of the turbines.
She also said she is “disappointed” that the deal will not have been completed by March 2019.
The U,T., said in its statement that the U.,T.
did not pay any amount for any of the power plants it financed.
Bond was Florida’s first U.T. ambassador.
Bond had been investigating Duke and other energy companies for more than a decade, after she took office in 2015.
In 2015, Bond accused the company of violating the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, and ordered the company to clean up its pollution.
Bondis office said that, under the terms of the agreement, the state would have to pay up to $5 billion to the company for cleaning up its actions and for providing “significant benefits to the residents of