Duke unveils coal ash recycling plan for H.F. Lee plant site

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) announced on Dec. 13 its plans to excavate coal ash from four basins at the H.F. Lee Plant in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and safely recycle the valuable material for use in concrete products.

“This is the latest step forward in safely closing coal ash basins and represents a significant investment in the Goldsboro community, which benefits customers and the local economy,” said Millie Chalk, government and community relations manager for Wayne County.

Much of the ash stored in basins has too much carbon to be used in concrete products. Duke Energy is making additional investments in technology designed to reprocess coal ash from basins to be used in various concrete products. This is a change from previously-announced plans for the site. In 2015, the company said it would excavate and relocate coal ash from the site to a fully-lined structural fill in Lee County. The Colon Mine remains a contingency site if final closure plans for basins across the state require it.

After evaluating a variety of locations, Duke experts have determined that H.F. Lee is an ideal site for a project of this nature based on a number of factors including, proximity to market demand, the volume of ash at the site, ash quality and the site’s current closure deadline.

Duke said the majority of the 6 million tons of ash on the property will be safely reprocessed for use in concrete products by the current 2028 closure deadline. Any material left after recycling operations have ended will be relocated to a safe, permanent storage solution off-site. The company does not intend to construct a landfill onsite to store remaining material.

In 2015, Duke Energy recycled nearly two-thirds of the ash produced across its states. North Carolina’s coal ash law encourages even more recycling and requires the company to identify three sites across the state for recycling projects, making 900,000 or more tons of material available each year.

This Dec. 13 announcement was made ahead of the Jan. 1, 2017, state deadline for announcing locations for two coal ash recycling projects. In October, the company announced plans to excavate and reprocess coal ash from the Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, N.C. Next, the company will work with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to acquire necessary permits and begin processing material once construction is complete.

More than half of the concrete produced in the United States contains coal ash because it makes roads, bridges and buildings stronger and more durable, Duke noted. Some of the world’s most iconic and sustainable structures were built using coal ash, including One World Trade Center in New York City.

Duke Energy said irt is making significant progress in safely closing all of its ash basins in ways that protect people, the environment and families’ wallets. The company has safely excavated about 5 million tons of ash in the Carolinas this year and recommends capping other basins, an approach most utilities across the nation will use.

Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States, supplies and delivers electricity to approximately 7.4 million customers in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. Its commercial and international businesses operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing renewable energy portfolio. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is an S&P 100 Stock Index company.

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.