Duke Energy Carolinas puts big dent in its coal piles

The Duke Energy Carolinas unit of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) took a big chunk out of its bloated coal inventory during the July 2013-June 2014 period, with the system coal inventory falling from 4.5 million tons to begin the period, to 1.9 million tons at the end.

That is according to fuel data that Duke Energy Carolinas filed on Aug. 12 at the North Carolina Utilities Commission. This is mostly monthly data for June 2014, but also included are some twelve-month figures for the period July 2013-June 2014.

This utility, like many power generators across the country, had been hurt in recent years by a slowdown in coal-fired power generation, causing stockpiles to stack up as they had to take already-contracted-for coal shipments.

Coal inventory at Duke Energy Carolinas began the July 2013-June 2014 period at 4.5 million tons, with 9.6 million tons of coal taken during the 12-month period and 12.2 million tons burned, leaving a final inventory as of the end of June of 1.9 million tons.

Duke Energy Carolinas burned 11.4 million tons of coal during the July 2011-June 2012 period, then followed that up with a slightly improved 11.5 million tons of coal burned in the July 2012-June 2013 period.

Those figures are included in monthly fuel consumption reports that the utility filed in August 2013 (covering June 2013 and the prior inclusive 12-month period) and August 2012 (covering June 2012 and the prior inclusive 12-month period) at the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

In the immediately prior July 2012-June 2013 period, the utility began the period with 4.7 million tons of coal in inventory, received 11.3 million tons, burned 11.5 million tons and ended the 12-month period with 4.5 million tons in inventory. So it was able to make minimal progress in burning down a bloated coal inventory during those 12 months, but vastly more progress in the latest 12 months.

The Aug. 12 report shows that in the July 2013-June 2014 period, the utility’s baseload coal units ran pretty well (a well maintained coal plant with strong demand should be able to turn out at least an 80% capacity factor):

  • Belews Creek Unit 1 – 1,110 MW, 66% capacity factor;
  • Belews Creek Unit 2 – 1,110 MW, 77% capacity factor;
  • Cliffside Unit 6 (a relatively new unit) – 835 MW, 56% capacity factor; and
  • Marshall Unit 4 – 660 MW, 60% capacity factor.

Two intermediate duty coal units had mixed results:

  • Cliffside Unit 5 – 556 MW, 26% capacity factor; and
  • Marshall Unit 3 – 658 MW, 61%.

The “cycling” coal units, which are basically peakers (to the extent any coal unit can be a peaker), had typical results. Allen Units 1-5 ran some, with a top capacity factor of 37% for one of the units and 11% the lowest for any of the Allen units. Lee Units 1-3 ran little, with a top capacity factor of 12% out of that group. And Marshall Units 1-2 (380 MW each) ran the best, with a capacity factor of 49% for Unit 1 and 56% for Unit 2.

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.