Coal-fired power plant to be retired Sept. 15

Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), shut down the H.F. Lee coal-fired power plant near Goldsboro, N.C., Sept. 15.

The Lee Plant began commercial operation in 1951. A second coal-fired unit was added the following year, and a third unit added in the 1960s brought the coal plant's total generating capacity to 382 MW. The site's four oil-fueled combustion turbine units, with a total capacity of 75 MW, will be retired Oct. 1, 2012.

Progress said this is the second such retirement under the utility's fleet-modernization program, which will help ensure continued grid reliability, reduce the long-term price impact on customers, reduce air emissions and water usage, and offer new economic development opportunities. In addition to retiring older, small coal plants, the utility's fleet-modernization strategy also includes building new natural gas-fueled combined-cycle units on property between the Lee Plant and the Wayne County Energy Complex.

The new, 920 MW natural gas-fueled combined-cycle facility and corresponding natural gas pipeline extension is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2013. This facility, along with the five dual-fueled combustion turbines at the existing Wayne County Energy Complex, will be called the H.F. Lee Energy Complex when the project is completed. Total generation capacity of the site will approach 1,800 MW.

Progress retired its coal-fired W.H. Weatherspoon power plant near Lumberton, N.C., Oct. 1, 2011, the first retirement under the utility's fleet-modernization plan.

Other plants slated for retirement include the Cape Fear Plant near Moncure, N.C. (Oct. 1, 2012), the Robinson coal-fired unit near Hartsville, S.C. (Oct. 1, 2012) and the L.V. Sutton Plant near Wilmington, N.C. (late 2013). Once the retirements are complete, the utility will have retired all of its coal-fired units that do not have advanced environmental controls. The utility's coal-fired unit retirements represent more than 1,600 MW, or approximately one-third of its coal-generating fleet.

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