Published July 30, 2012
The Progress Energy announcement means that South Carolina will further reduce its coal-burning emissions as utilities switch to cleaner fuel sources. On May 30, South Carolina Electric & Gas announced plans to retire up to six coal-fired generating units at three locations by the end of 2018. The SCE&G units range in age from 45 to 57 years and are SCE&G’s oldest and smallest coal-fired units. In addition, the Savannah River Site shut down a 1950s era coal plant this year.
Progress Energy said Friday that the 316-megawatt Cape Fear coal-fired plant, near Moncure, N.C., and the 177-megawatt H.B. Robinson Unit 1 coal-fired plant in Darlington County will be retired Oct. 1.
“These plants, and especially the men and women who have operated and maintained them, have played a vital role in meeting customer energy needs reliably and affordably for decades,” said Jeff Lyash, executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy, in a news release. “As we continue modernizing our generation system, we salute those who have been instrumental in fueling our region’s economic growth so dependably.”
The N.C. plant is the utility’s first coal-fired facility and was originally scheduled to retire in June 2013 as part of the company’s fleet-modernization plan, announced in 2009. Three oil-fired combustion turbines will continue to operate at the site after the coal plant’s retirement.
The S.C. coal plant began operation in 1960 and is located on the same site as the 724-megawatt Robinson nuclear plant.
The Robinson nuclear plant and the company’s 790-megawatt Darlington County plant, also located near the coal plant, will not be affected.
Pending changes in environmental regulations and other rising costs for smaller, older technology plants led to the retirement of the coal-fired plants, Progress said.
Other factors leading to the decision include the anticipated early 2013 commercial operation of new natural gas-fired generation at the H.F. Lee Plant near Goldsboro, N.C., continued low natural-gas prices and its new joint-dispatch process that utilizes generation across both Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas.