Duke Energy implodes last boiler at retired Sutton coal plant in North Carolina

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) said that an early-morning implosion on Nov. 9 brought down the last of three boilers at the retired, coal-fired Sutton plant near Wilmington, N.C.

The implosion removes the last Duke Energy coal plant in Eastern North Carolina, and brings to seven the number of coal plants that have been demolished in the Carolinas in the last five years. Duke Energy has demolished coal plants at the following sites:

  • Cape Fear Plant – Moncure, N.C.
  • Cliffside Station Units 1-4 – Mooresboro, N.C. (two newer coal units are still operating there)
  • Dan River Steam Station – Eden, N.C.
  • H.F. Lee Plant – Goldsboro, N.C.
  • Robinson Plant – Hartsville, S.C.
  • Sutton Plant – Wilmington, N.C.
  • Weatherspoon Plant – Lumberton, N.C.

Duke Energy said it is also in the early stages of demolition at the Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, N.C., and the Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly, N.C., and continuing demolition of portions of the W.S. Lee Plant in Belton, S.C. At many locations, retired coal plants have been replaced by new, highly-efficient natural gas-fired plants. Only seven of 16 coal plants remain in operation in the Carolinas.

The Sutton Plant began commercial service in 1954 and the coal units were retired in 2013 after a new natural gas-fired plant came into service at the site. As part of demolition work at Sutton Plant, crews removed the plant’s two iconic red-and-white striped smokestacks in March 2016, using a ring-line platform that allowed the stacks to be removed from the top down. Duke Energy said it continues to safely excavate and close ash basins at the Sutton Plant. Crews have excavated 1 million tons of coal ash from Sutton Plant basins since excavation operations began one year ago.

Ash is being transported by rail to a fully-lined structural fill at the Brickhaven Mine in Chatham County, N.C. Approximately 2 million tons of the 7 million tons of ash at Sutton Plant will be taken to the Brickhaven Mine structural fill, with remaining ash to be stored in a fully-lined landfill on Sutton Plant property. Construction of the landfill is beginning now that necessary permits and approvals have been received from the state.

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.