Progress Energy to retire Lee coal-fired power plant Sept. 15

Source: Duke Energy

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

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. 

The Lee Plant has been a vital part of meeting the needs of Progress Energy Carolinas' customers since it began commercial operation in 1951. Located on the Neuse River west of Goldsboro, the plant was one of the first major construction projects in the utility's post-World War II expansion. 

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

"For 61 years, the Lee Plant has served the region with safe, reliable and affordable electricity," said Jeff Lyash, executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy. "During these years, hundreds of current and former employees have been closely tied to Wayne County and the region, and the plant's long, productive life has been a testament to their outstanding dedication." 

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 state-of-the-art 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. 

"This new facility is an important investment in the future of our customers and communities," said Lyash. "I am proud of our continued commitment to Wayne County and to spurring economic growth in the communities we serve." 

The utility has been working to minimize employee impacts from its fleet-modernization efforts. Of the normal complement of 79 employees at Lee, 65 were selected for positions within the new Lee Plant or have been placed in similar positions within the company and 14 are retiring with the company's severance programs associated with the merger with Duke Energy. 

PEC 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. 

The utility will replace the retiring coal-fueled generating capacity with combined-cycle plants fueled by natural gas. 

In addition to the new Lee facility, the utility is building a 625-MW facility at its Sutton site. Commercial operation, including a corresponding natural gas pipeline extension, is expected at the end of 2013.
The utility also added 584 MW of natural gas-fueled generation at its Sherwood H. Smith Jr. Energy Complex near Hamlet, N.C., in June 2011. 

The merged company's joint-dispatch process is enhancing its fleet-modernization strategy by using generation across both Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas to more efficiently meet customer needs.

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