Duke likely to retire all coal-fired units at Ohio plant due to Utility MACT rule

Source: Duke Energy

Duke Energy Ohio (NYSE:DUK) anticipates it will retire all six coal-fired generation units at its W.C. Beckjord Station, southwest of Cincinnati, by Jan. 1, 2015, as a result of a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule.

Duke Energy Ohio announced its intent to retire Beckjord Station's coal-fired units 1 through 6 – totaling 862 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity – in its 2011 Resource Plan filing with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). 

The company plans to retire the coal-fired units at the nearly 60-year-old plant in 2015 due to EPA's recently proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. EPA intends to finalize the rule in Nov. 2011, with required emission control technologies to be installed by Jan. 1, 2015. 

The Beckjord Station decision is largely based on the age of the coal-fired units and the prohibitive cost – to which our customers would be exposed – of implementing the new MACT technology requirements. The anticipated retirement date is contingent on potential changes to the implementation for EPA's MACT rule and other environmental regulations. 

Barring a change to plant economics – including variables like fuel costs, power prices, and capital and maintenance expenses – Duke Energy intends to continue operating the coal-fired units through the anticipated 2015 retirement date to help meet regional demand for electricity. 

As outlined in its 2011 Resource Plan, Duke Energy Ohio plans to meet demand following the retirement of Beckjord's coal-fired units through the purchase of electricity on the competitive wholesale market or the construction/acquisition of natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating assets. 

No determination has been made as to which path Duke Energy Ohio will pursue. 

The construction of the W.C. Beckjord Station was announced on Nov. 10, 1948, at a location 18 miles upstream of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. The site was dedicated on June 12, 1952, with the first 100-MW unit in commercial operation. Five additional coal-fired units were added by 1969. Four oil-fired combustion turbines (CTs) were added in the early 1970s. 

Duke Energy Ohio owns 100 percent of the first five generating units at the station, and jointly owns unit 6 (37.5 percent ownership) with American Electric Power Co. (12.5 percent) and Dayton Power and Light Co. (50 percent). 

Duke Energy Ohio owns all four CT units, which are capable of producing 244 MW of electricity and are primarily used for generating power during periods of high demand. The company has no plans to retire the CT units. 

Currently, Beckjord Station employs approximately 120 Duke Energy personnel. 

Some employees might be offered the opportunity to work at other Duke Energy plants. 

The company will work closely with employees and unions to determine potential options for impacted workers. The anticipated retirement date of Beckjord's coal-fired units is contingent on potential changes to the implementation timeline for EPA's MACT rule.



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