Progress Energy Carolinas burned a little extra coal in April

Progress Energy Carolinas made a little progress in April in burning down its coal inventory, beginning the month at 2.46 million tons and ending it at 2.38 million tons.

Those are among the facts included in an April fuel report that Progress Energy Carolinas, a unit of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), filed June 15 at the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

In April, the utility took delivery of 595,721 tons of coal, and burned more than that, 680,532 tons. In the 12-month period ending on April 30, the utility took in 9.5 million tons of coal and burned only 9.2 million. So the higher amount of burn over deliveries in April was something an anomaly for the 12-month period.

The report also breaks down deliveries in April to the stockpiles at various plants, and also to transloading facility stockpiles, like at Ceredo, Docks Creek and the Shipyard River Terminal. Stockpiles at Ceredo and Docks Creek are shown as being of Northern Appalachia (NAPP) coal, which is a coal that Progress Energy Carolinas is increasingly using as a cheaper alternative to Central Appalachia coal in scrubbed power plants.

In April, 77,590 tons of coal was delivered to the Asheville power plant stockpile at an average cost of $93.82/ton. No coal was delivered in April to the Cape Fear, Robinson, Roxboro Units 1-3, Roxboro Unit 4 and Weatherspoon stockpiles. There was 57,065 tons delivered to Lee at $83.67/ton, 25,451 tons delivered to Mayo at $96.90/ton and 64,108 tons delivered to Sutton at $122.91/ton.

The lack of coal deliveries to several plants is explained by the fact that some units didn’t run at all, with no capacity factor shown, in the 12-month period ending April 30, at: Cape Fear Units 5-6, Lee Units 1-3, Robinson Unit 1, Sutton Units 1-3 and Weatherspoon Units 1-3. The capacity factors and ratings for the units that ran in the 12-month period are:

  • Asheville Unit 1, 49%, 196 MW;
  • Asheville Unit 2, 53%, 187 MW;
  • Mayo Unit 1, 47%, 735 MW;
  • Roxboro Unit 1, 46%, 374 MW;
  • Roxboro Unit 2, 61%, 667 MW;
  • Roxboro Unit 3, 58%, 698 MW; and
  • Roxboro Unit 4, 59%, 711 MW.

Prior utility reports show unused plants are targeted for retirement

Progress Energy Carolinas is expected to meet its 2013 air compliance requirements under the 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act through the retirement of the coal-fired Lee plant and its replacement with a combined-cycle natural gas-fired plant. Progress Energy Carolinas made that point in a June 1 filing at the North Carolina Utilities Commission of a Clean Smokestacks update report. The planned retirement of three Lee units gets the utility under a regulatory cap. The three Lee units are Unit 1 (74 MW), Unit 2 (77 MW) and Unit 3 (246 MW). Progress has installed scrubbers at Asheville, Mayo and Roxboro to meet the law.

During a 12-month review period ending Feb. 29, in order to minimize fuel costs, Progress Energy Carolinas took advantage of a “dramatic decrease” in natural gas prices and operated its natural gas-fired combustion turbines at much higher capacity factors as compared with prior review periods. Dewey Roberts II, Manager-Power System Operations at PEC, outlined power plant performance in annual fuels case testimony filed May 9 at the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

“Combustion turbines are very effective in providing reserve capacity because they can be started quickly in response to a sharp increase in customer demand, without having to continuously operate the units,” Roberts wrote. “During the review period, in order to minimize PEC’s fuel costs, PEC took advantage of the dramatic decrease in natural gas prices and operated its natural gas-fired combustion turbines at much higher capacity factors as compared with prior review periods.”

With respect to unit additions and retirements, for the 12-month period ending Feb. 29, PEC added the Richmond County CCS combined cycle generator with summer and winter capacity ratings of 652 MW and 708 MW, respectively. During the review period, PEC retired the Cape Fear 1 Steam Turbine, Cape Fear 2 Steam Turbine, and Weatherspoon Units 1-3. The total summer rating capacity retired was 188 MW. The Weatherspoon coal units were retired last October.

In 2009, Progress Energy announced a plan to shut down 11 coal-burning units at four sites in North Carolina. They are Weatherspoon, H.F. Lee, L.V. Sutton and Cape Fear. The retirements of these unscrubbed units, representing about 1,500 MW, or 30% of Progress Energy’s coal fleet in North Carolina, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

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.