Duke Energy tearing down old Riverbend coal units

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), which retired four coal units at the Riverbend power station in Gaston County, N.C., during April, said Nov. 4 that it is ready to begin the decommissioning and demolition process.

“Duke Energy will have retired seven of its 14 coal plants in the state by the end of the year,” Duke District Manager Tim Gause said in a statement.

The company will submit the closure plan to North Carolina regulators, as required by the station’s permit, and will continue to comply with all requirements for many years to come, Duke said.

This multi-year process involves cleaning and removing equipment, demolishing the powerhouse and auxiliary buildings, and restoring the site, Duke said.

The process is a long one that will occur in phases, Duke said.

Phase one will begin this fall and will last through early 2014. During this phase, the company will begin removing structures, including retired natural gas combustion turbine units, precipitators, coal handling equipment and the water tank.

Phase two is expected to begin in early 2016 and will last several months. During this stage, Duke Energy will remove any remaining powerhouse equipment and demolish the building and chimneys. If implosion is needed to complete the demolition, the company will update the public.

Between the two phases, teams will be working to relocate electrical equipment.

The Riverbend plant was first commissioned back in 1929, according to a Duke website. Four gas-fired combustion turbine units were retired in October 2012, Duke said.

During the past two years, Duke also retired coal or oil-fired capacity at the Buck station; the Cape Fear plant and the Dan River station as well as the H.F. Lee plant and Robinson plant – which are all located in North Carolina.

Duke Energy Carolinas has been bringing on new gas-fired generation to make up for the retired coal capacity.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.