• 45°

Salisbury’s Buck Steam Station legacy to continue in TV miniseries

By Samuel Motley

intern@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — While the implosion of Salisbury’s Buck Steam Station ended an era, its story will live on through a new Smithsonian Channel miniseries, “Inside Mighty Machines.”

In the episode “Power Plant,” Chad Zdenek, the host of the show and a former rocket engineer for NASA, helps take apart America’s past engineering marvels and legends to discover how each one shaped the history of the country and world.

It is, therefore, fitting that Buck Steam Station is featured in Zdenek’s series. After the first commercial coal power station began operation in September 1882, coal stations like Buck worked around the clock to bring power to hundreds of thousands of people a day.

Buck was built in 1926 and took roughly 10 months to build. It was Duke Energy’s first large-capacity coal-generating plant built in the Carolinas and was named for the company’s co-founder, James Buchanan ‘Buck’ Duke, according to Duke Energy’s website. Buck’s steam generators were decommissioned in 2013. In recent years, the site has drawn scrutiny over possible water contamination from coal ash stored in massive ponds adjacent to the Dukeville community. Duke Energy contends that well water shows no signs of influence from coal ash and cites studies from state regulators and Duke University as proof that substances in water was from soil and rocks.

That ash will be excavated and recycled or stored in a lined landfill as part of a settlement.

Zdenek’s episode on Buck delves into the station’s impressive engineering feats in two important ways — through its massive steam turbines and its 110-foot-high precipitators.

Buck’s powerful steam turbines totaled six, generating 460 megawatts at full capacity. And at its height, the plant burned 20,000 tons of coal a day. Steam turbines like the ones found at Buck are “so efficient and so effective that 100 years later” they are still found in power plants today, Zdenek says in the episode.

By the 1970s, the environmental effects of coal steam stations like Buck were clear, Zdenek says in the episode. For this reason, Duke Energy added massive precipitators to filter out poisonous metals from the air, Zdenek said.

Plants like Buck are still prominent throughout the U.S., producing roughly a third of the nation’s power. However, one in four of these coal power plants set to retire or convert to natural gas and renewables.

Zdenek’s miniseries is a glimpse into the history of the factory that brought Rowan County into the modern age.

The episode on Buck will debut at 9 p.m. Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel. The miniseries will run Sundays through June 2.

Contact newsroom intern Samuel Motley 704-797-4264. 

Comments

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Eight new COVID-19 deaths, 203 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds