Duke Energy ready to put the blowtorch to Cliffside Units 1-4

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) will begin demolishing the shut, coal-fired Cliffside Units 1 through 4 this fall, with the demolition process to last several months.

The process will include implosion of the powerhouse in mid-2014. The company noted in a Sept. 4 statement that it retired the four units in October 2011 after more than 60 years of service to Duke Energy customers. The retirement of these four units, but not the larger, newer Unit 5, was part of a deal with regulators to get the recently-completed Cliffside Unit 6 approved.

Duke Energy said it long-term vision for sites with retired coal units like those at Cliffside is to safely return them to ground level. This multi-year process involves cleaning and removing equipment, demolishing the buildings and powerhouse, and restoring the site.

“By retiring the older, less efficient coal units, we have the opportunity to modernize our generation fleet to better serve our customers,” said Craig DeBrew, Duke Energy district manager. “The newest addition to the site, unit 6, is a state-of-the-art unit that uses a highly effective combination of air quality controls. Just as we took great care to build unit 6, we’ll be just as deliberate and methodical in demolishing these retired units.”

The 38-MW Unit 1, along with units 2, 3 and 4 – a total of 198 MW – were retired in October 2011. Located one-half mile from the original four units is Unit 5 in Rutherford County, N.C. Built in 1972, the 556-MW Unit 5 has since undergone two major upgrades focused on air emissions: in 2002 a selective catalytic reduction system reduced NOx output by about 80%; and in 2010, a new flue gas desulfurization system reduced SO2 emissions by about 99%. The 825-MW Unit 6, with a full suite of environmental controls, began commercial operation on Dec. 30, 2012.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that coal suppliers to Cliffside earlier this year included: B&W Resources out of the Manchester Tipple in eastern Kentucky; Duke Energy itself with coal sourced out of the Cyrus Dock in West Virginia and the Calvert City Terminal in Kentucky; and Alpha Coal out of the Homer III Processing operation in West Virginia and Roxana prep plant in Kentucky.

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.