Coal-fired power plant to close by Progress Energy

Progress Energy Carolinas on Oct. 1 will close the 177 MW, 62-year-old coal-fired W.H. Weatherspoon Power Plant, the first such retirement under the utility’s fleet-modernization program.

The Weatherspoon Plant began commercial operation in 1949. Two more coal-fired units were added in the 1950s, bringing the plant’s total coal generating capacity to 177 MW. Four peaking units at the site, fueled by natural gas and oil, were added in the 1970s and will continue to operate as needed to meet customer demand.

In 2009, Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN) announced a plan to shut down 11 coal-burning units at four sites in North Carolina. Other plants slated for retirement include the H.F. Lee Plant, the L.V. Sutton Plant and the Cape Fear Plant. The retirements, representing about 1,500 MW, or 30 percent of Progress Energy’s coal generating fleet in North Carolina, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

As part of the fleet-modernization plan, Progress said it has invested more than $1 billion to reduce emissions at the Roxboro and Mayo plants and the Asheville Plant. Progress Energy will continue to operate those coal-fired facilities after the others are retired.

Progress Energy has two projects underway to replace the retiring coal-fueled generating capacity with plants fueled by natural gas. A new 920 MW natural gas-fueled combined-cycle facility is under construction at the Lee Plant site. That project, including a gas pipeline extension, is expected to begin commercial operation in January 2013.

At the Sutton Plant site, Progress Energy is building a gas-fueled combined cycle plant with a generating capacity of 625 MW. That addition, with a corresponding natural gas pipeline extension into southeastern North Carolina, is expected to be online at the end of 2013.

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