Duke Energy Progress sees big boost in recent coal burn

During a March 2013-February 2014 review period, Duke Energy Progress retired 553 MW of coal-fired capacity at Sutton Units 1-3 and added 622 MW of new gas-fired combined cycle capacity at the Sutton site.

Those are among the facts contained in May 8 testimony from several Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) officials filed with the South Carolina Public Service Commission in a fuel review case.

Besides the Sutton retirements and addition, during the review period Duke Energy Progress retired combustion turbines (total of 261 MW of capacity) at the Cape Fear and Robinson power plant sites, wrote Joseph Miller Jr. of Duke Energy Business Services LLC.

As of March of this year, Duke Energy Progress had 9,175 MW of generation capacity, broken down as: 3,328 MW coal; 2,999 MW combustion turbines; 2,626 MW combined cycle; and 222 MW hydro.

The three coal plants still in operation, covering seven units, are fully equipped with air emissions controls, providing flexibility in the utility’s generation mix, Miller noted.

Notable is that in February the utility began negotiations with the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency to buy the agency’s shares of the coal-fired Roxboro Unit 4 and Mayo Unit 1, which would add 208 MW to the Duke Energy Progress coal portfolio.

Alexander “Sasha” Weintraub, the head of fuel buying for Duke, testified that the Duke Energy Progress coal burn was 7.6 million tons in the review period, up 40% from the projected 5.4 million tons that current customer fuel rates are based on. He said higher gas prices during the period and the stronger coal burn meant that the company’s bloated coal inventory levels had returned to around normal as of April of this year. The projected coal burn level for the next one-year billing period (July 2014-June 2015) is 6.4 million tons.

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.