Duke retiring coal-fired plants early

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 1, 2013

Duke Energy says it plans to shut down two coal-fired plants at Buck Steam Station on April 1 — two years ahead of the planned retirement date for the power-generating units.
The company said today about 65 employees will be affected at Buck and its Riverbend Steam Station in Gaston County, where it’s also retiring two coal-fired units. Duke said it would try to find those employees other jobs within the company and provide severance to if it can’t.
Duke officials said the coal-fired plants have been used less frequently in recent years and would’ve declined in use even more with the recent completion of natural gas-fired plants. Duke’s merger with Progress Energy Carolinas also lets the company generate and transmit electricity more efficiently across a larger fleet of plants, the company said.
“The investments we and our customers have made in the last 10 years allow us to retire older stations like these and continue transitioning to cleaner sources of electricity,” Keith Trent, Duke executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Both plants have been in operation since the 1920s.
Buck Steam Station, on the Yadkin River, entered commercial operation in 1926 and was Duke Power’s first large-scale power plant.
Its original two units retired in 1979, and units 3 and 4 retired in May 2011. Three smaller natural gas combustion turbines at the site retired in October 2012.
The two coal-fired units to be retired in April began operating in 1953.
A natural gas combined cycle station began operating in November 2011.