Duke Energy blows up the last two coal units at the Cape Fear plant

With one final blast, Duke Energy‘s (NYSE: DUK) retired, coal-fired Cape Fear power plant in North Carolina passed into history on June 4, marking both the end of major demolition at the site and the end of an era.

Duke Energy’s contractor imploded the plant’s two coal units, which began operating in 1956 and 1958, respectively. Two of the site’s six coal-fired units were retired in 1977 and two in 2011. The remaining two coal-fired units, along with one of four oil-fired combustion turbine units, were retired in October 2012 as part of the company’s transition to cleaner, more efficient generation sources.

“It’s been an honor to spend most of my 40-year career at the Cape Fear Plant and watch as the region has grown up around us. We’ve been an important part of that growth,” said Danny Wimberly, Duke Energy’s manager of demolition and retirement at the site. “While it’s a bittersweet day for many employees who enjoyed their years working at the site, it also demonstrates our continued progress in modernizing the way we produce energy. We’re building on a legacy that began with power plants like Cape Fear, and continues today with new power plants that generate electricity more efficiently and cleanly than ever before.”

The smokestacks and emission-control equipment were imploded in 2014. The remaining infrastructure at the site will be mechanically removed in the coming months. The company said it is now focused on restoring the land, and continuing scientific and engineering studies to inform coal ash basin closure plans for the site’s five ash basins.

Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with approximately $121 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

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.