Progress Energy Carolinas plans to retire Lee coal plant by 2013

Progress Energy Carolinas (PEC) plans to retire the coal-fired Lee power plant by 2013 in order to comply with 2013 restrictions under the state of North Carolina’s 2002 Clean Smokestacks Act.

PEC, a unit of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), told the North Carolina Utilities Commission in an April 2 filing that it is otherwise in current compliance with the act. The filing, which was a required annual report on act compliance, said that the planned replacement of Lee with a combined-cycle natural gas-fired unit “represents a cost-effective resource plan for our system.”

There are three units at Lee targeted for retirement; Unit 1, 74 MW; Unit 2, 77 MW; and Unit 3, 246 MW. No specific gas-fired plant was named as Lee’s replacement.

In 2011, PEC’s NOx output from its North Carolina coal units was less than 25,000 tons (18,810 tons actual), and its SO2 emissions were less than 100,000 tons (51,416 actual), which put it into compliance with current restrictions under the act. All emissions controls needed for act compliance have been installed, the utility added.

Under the act, PEC’s annual NOx emissions can’t exceed 25,000 tons beginning in 2007. Its annual SO2 emissions can’t be more than 100,000 tons beginning in 2009, and the SO2 output can’t be more than 50,000 tons per year beginning in 2013. To help it achieve the SO2 cuts, scrubbers were installed at the Asheville, Mayo and Roxboro plants.

In its Feb. 29 annual Form 10-K report, Progress Energy said it actually plans to retire three coal plants in North Carolina by the end of 2013: Cape Fear, 316 MW; Lee, 382 MW; and Sutton, 575 MW.

In the Form 10-K, Progress Energy reported on air compliance for both PEC and Progress Energy Florida (PEF): “We have made significant progress in the coal-to-gas fleet transition we announced in 2009. Our initial plans were to retire 11 North Carolina coal units that do not have scrubbers by no later than the end of 2017. These smaller, aging units represent approximately 30 percent (or 1,500 MW) of our North Carolina fleet. In 2011, we accelerated the final closure timetable to 2013 and retired the first of the units. To replace the coal-fired generation to be retired, we placed a 600-MW combined-cycle plant in service in mid-2011 and have broken ground on two other plants, which are projected to begin service in 2013. Of our approximately 7,500 MW of coal-fired generation, we have scrubbed and installed emission control equipment on almost 5,000 MW in the Carolinas and Florida at an investment of over $2 billion.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.