Duke Energy Corp : Duke Energy to Close Two Charlotte-Area Coal Plants Early
02/01/2013| 10:33am US/Eastern
By Ben Fox Rubin
Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) said it will close two of its Charlotte-area coal-fired power plants two years earlier than scheduled, as the company continues to make the transition to newer, more-efficient plants.
The closures are part of Duke Energy's strategy to modernize its power plants, which includes retiring as much as 6,800 megawatts of older coal and large oil-fired units. By the end of 2013, Duke Energy said it will have retired more than 3,800 MW of this capacity.
Both stations had been slated to be closed in April 2015 in advance of upcoming federal environmental regulations. However, the company said it elected to close Buck Units 5 and 6 and Riverbend Units 4 through 7 on April 1 2013.
The units have been operating infrequently in recent years and in the future would have operated even less with the recent completion of new, more-efficient plants and low natural-gas prices, the company said.
Duke Energy's recent acquisition and integration of Progress Energy Inc., which has assets in the Carolinas, also contributed to the early retirements, Duke said.
The two plants have been in operation for more than eight decades each, Duke said, with Buck entering commercial operation in 1926 as Duke Power's first large-scale power plant, and Riverbend starting operations in 1929.
"The investments we and our customers have made in the last 10 years allow us to retire older stations like these and continue transitioning to cleaner sources of electricity," said Keith Trent, chief operating officer of regulated utilities. "These stations played pivotal roles in the 1920s and 1930s in helping to electrify the industries and homes of the Carolinas, and we honor all those employees who contributed their time and talents over the years to ensure safe, reliable operations."
Duke Energy completed its acquisition of Progress Energy in early July in a deal initially valued at about $26 billion. The merger created a much larger company, with five utilities in six states and more than seven million customers.
In November, Duke Energy said its third-quarter earnings rose as the company reported its first full quarter to include Progress.
Duke's shares were up 44 cents at $69.18 in early trading. The stock is up 5.9% over the past three months.
Write to Ben Fox Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 10:47 a.m. EST to show that the company said it elected to close Buck Units 5 and 6 and Riverbend Units 4 through 7 on April 1, 2013. An earlier version incorrectly stated 2012.
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