Duke prepares to remove stacks at Sutton coal plant in Wilmington, N.C.

For more than 40 years, the two red-and-white striped smokestacks at Duke Energy’s L.V. Sutton Plant have served as a distinguishing landmark on the Wilmington landscape. In the coming weeks, the company will celebrate the plant’s legacy and transform the landscape by beginning to mechanically remove the stacks.

The project is part of an effort to use more efficient energy sources and demolish retired coal plants.

“These colorful stacks represent more than just a local power plant,” reflected John Elliott, Duke Energy district manager. “They are a symbol of our long history of powering the Cape Fear region and contributing to industrial growth in the Carolinas.

“As demolition of the structures begins, we will renew our commitment to providing customers with affordable, reliable energy from the new natural gas plant on site,” he added.

As part of the demolition plan, Duke Energy’s contractor will use a helicopter to place steel equipment on each stack to assist in removing the inner lining of the structures. Next, the contractor will attach a doughnut-shaped device to the top of each stack. Over the next few months, the equipment will descend the height of the 550-foot stacks, methodically removing sections of concrete at a rate of approximately five to 10 feet per week.

The Sutton coal plant began operating in 1954. Duke Energy retired the plant and began decommissioning the units after the company brought a new natural gas-fired unit into service at the same site in December 2013.

The Sutton Plant is one of nine retired coal plants across the Carolinas experiencing a major transformation through Duke Energy’s decommissioning and demolition program.

Removing the smokestacks marks another milestone in the multiyear, complex process.

For more information about the decommissioning process, visit duke-energy.com/coal-decommissioning.