Duke Energy Carolinas turns in poor coal burn in 2015

The Duke Energy Carolinas unit of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) burned only 9.8 million tons of coal in all of 2015, down sharply from 12 million tons of coal burn in 2014.

The 2015 burn figure is in a monthly fuel report that Duke Energy Carolinas filed on Feb. 12 with the North Carolina Utilities Commission that covers the month of December 2015, plus the full year of 2015. Figures cited in this story for prior years are from fuel reports that the utility had filed with the commission in prior years.

Duke Energy Carolinas burned 12 million tons of coal in 2014, took delivery of about 12.1 million tons, and began the year at 3.5 million tons of coal inventory and ended 2014 with 3.7 million tons of coal stockpiles.

In 2015, the most recent year, it started the year with the 3.7 million tons of inventory, received 10.9 million tons during the year, burned 9.8 million tons and ended 2015 with a higher coal inventory at 4.8 million tons.

By contrast, in 2013, Duke Energy Carolinas burned down a fairly big chunk of its bloated coal inventories, with the stockpiles beginning that year at 4.7 million tons and ending 2013 at 3.5 million tons. It burned 11.2 million tons in 2013.

Looking at just coal burn, the company consumed 9.8 million tons in 2015, 12 million tons in 2014 and 11.2 million tons in 2013.

Taking a look at some other figures from the 2015 fuel report, the utility had $978.1 million in total coal costs in 2015, with a cost of coal purchased at $3.63/mmBtu.

The capacity factors in 2015 for its baseload coal units were:

  • Belews Creek Unit 1, 1,110 MW in size, 61.7% capacity factor;
  • Belews Creek Unit 2, 1,110 MW, 66.8%;
  • Cliffside Unit 6, 844 MW, 42.1%;
  • Marshall Unit 3, 658 MW, 46.4%; and
  • Marshall Unit 4, 660 MW, 54.5%.

Notable is that an industry rule of thumb is that any well maintained coal/steam unit can achieve a capacity factor of at least 80% in any given year as long as the power demand is there.

Only Cliffside Unit 5 (555 MW) is considered by the utility to be an intermediate coal unit, and it had a capacity factor of 19.9% in 2015. The cycling coal units are Allen 1-5, Lee 3 and Marshall 1-2, with those units having capacity factors last year that ranged on the low side at 5.9% for Lee 3, and on the high side for Marshall 1 of 33.2%.

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.