North Carolina utilities work on new power plants, retirements of old ones

The three investor-owned utilities that serve North Carolina have a mix of renewable energy, nuclear and gas-fired projects in the works over the next few years, said an annual report to the governor and the General Assembly issued Dec. 28 by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Under state law, the commission must submit a report of its analysis of the long-range needs for the expansion of facilities for the generation of electricity in North Carolina and a report on its plan for meeting those needs. Much of the information contained in this report is based on reports to the commission by the electric utilities. It also reflects information from other records and files of the commission.

There are three regulated investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) subject to the jurisdiction of the commission. All three of the IOUs own generating facilities. They are the Duke Energy Progress LLC (Progress) and Duke Energy Carolinas LLC (Duke) units of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), and Virginia Electric and Power Co. (VEPCO) d/b/a Dominion North Carolina Power (NC Power), which is a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D). Duke and Progress, the two largest electric IOUs in North Carolina, together provide about 95% of the utility-supplied electricity consumed in the state.

Duke Energy Progress

As of September 2016, Progress had 14,016 MW of installed generating capacity (winter rating). This does not include purchases and non-utility owned capacity.

As part of the Western Carolinas Modernization Project (WCMP), the combined 384-MW Asheville 1 and 2 coal units are planned to be retired by 2020. The retired units are expected to be replaced with two 280-MW natural gas combined-cycle (CC) units. Additionally, an undetermined amount of solar generation is planned for installation at the same site. The Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the new combined-cycle units was filed with the commission in January 2016 and approved in March 2016.

Other capacity additions include:

  • Planned nuclear uprates totaling 34 MW in the 2017-2020 timeframe.
  • Addition of 100 MW Sutton Blackstart combustion turbines in Wilmington in 2017.
  • Addition of 1,221 MW of combined-cycle capacity in 2022.
  • Addition of 3,276 MW of combustion turbine capacity in 2023 through 2031.

Planned retirements include:

  • Sutton combustion turbine units 1, 2A and 2B by 2017 (76 MW).
  • Darlington, SC combustion turbine units 1-10 by 2020 (645 MW).
  • Blewett combustion turbine units 1-4 and Weatherspoon combustion turbine units 1-4 by 2027 (232 MW).
  • Planning assumptions for nuclear stations assume retirement at the end of their current license extension including Robinson 2 in 2030 (797 MW).

The ultimate timing of unit retirements can be influenced by factors that impact the economics of continued unit operations. Such factors include changes in relative fuel prices, operations and maintenance costs and the costs associated with compliance of evolving environmental regulations. As such, unit retirement schedules are expected to change over time as market conditions change, the report noted.

Duke Energy Caroiinas

As of September 2016, Duke had 22,066 MW of installed generating capacity (winter rating), excluding purchases and non-utility owned capacity.

As shown in recent Duke integrated resource plans (IRPs), a capacity need has been identified in 2017/2018. In an order dated May 2014, the company received a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity (CECPCN) from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina to build the Lee combined-cycle plant (Lee CC) at the Lee Steam Station site located in Anderson, S.C. The Lee CC facility is projected to be available by the end of 2017 at a capacity of 683 MW. This is the Duke capacity net of 100 MW to be owned by North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. (NCEMC).

Duke continues to evaluate utility-owned solar additions to support its compliance targets and operational flexibility. Duke has two new utility-scale solar projects under construction which will be available for the summer peak of 2017. These are Monroe Solar Facility (60 MW in Union County) and Mocksville Solar Facility (15 MW in Davie County).

Duke expects to receive from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission the Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for the W.S. Lee Nuclear Station (Lee Nuclear) by the end of 2016. The integrated resource plan continues to support new nuclear generation as a carbon-free, cost effective, reliable option within the company’s resource portfolio. Historically low natural gas prices, ambiguity regarding the timing and impact of environmental regulations and uncertainty regarding the potential to extend the licenses of existing nuclear units affects the timing of the need for new nuclear generation. Duke currently projects the possible addition of 1,117 MW for Lee Nuclear units in both 2026 and 2028.

Other capacity additions include:

  • Addition of 85 MW due to nuclear uprates at Catawba and Oconee in 2017-2020.
  • Addition of 1,221 MW of combined-cycle capacity in 2023.
  • Addition of 468 MW of combustion turbine resources in 2025.

The planned retirements are Allen coal units 1-3 (604 MW) and units 4-5 (557 MW) in 2024 and 2028, respectively.

Dominion North Carolina Power

As of April 2016, NC Power had 21,045 MW of installed generating capacity (winter rating). This excludes purchases and non-utility capacity. Of this total, only 501 MW is located in North Carolina.

NC Power issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November 2014 for up to approximately 1,600 MW of new or existing intermediate or baseload dispatchable generation. The RFP requested purchase power agreements (PPA) with a term of 10 to 20 years, commencing in the 2019/2020 timeframe. Multiple proposals were received and evaluated. The company’s self-build 1,585-MW CC in Greensville County, Virginia, provided superior customer benefits compared to all other options. The Greensville County certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) was filed with the State Corporation Commission of Virginia (SCC) in July 2015 and approved in March 2016. The combined cycle plant is expected to be online by 2019.

The company is developing a new nuclear unit, North Anna 3, at its existing North Anna Power Station in Louisa County in central Virginia, subject to obtaining all required approvals. Based on the expected schedule for obtaining the COL from the NRC, the SCC certification and approval process, and the construction timeline for the facility, the earliest possible in-service date for North Anna 3 is September 2028. Based on the timing of the evaluation and implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the company has determined it is prudent to focus its near-term efforts for North Anna 3 on the activities needed to secure the COL, currently expected to be issued by the NRC in 2017. For integrated resource planning purposes, the North Anna 3 available capacity year is 2029 which will allow time for the CPP and COL processes to evolve.

Based on the current and anticipated environmental regulations along with current market conditions, NC Power’s 2016 plan includes the following impacts to the company’s existing generating resources in terms of retirements:

  • The coal-fired Yorktown Units 1 (159 MW) and 2 (164 MW) are scheduled for retirement in 2017.
  • Currently under evaluation is the potential retirement of Yorktown Unit 3 in 2022 (790 MW of oil-fired generation).
  • Under evaluation are the retirements of Chesterfield Units 3 (98 MW) and 4 (163 MW), and Mecklenburg Units 1 (69 MW) and 2 (69 MW), all modeled for retirement by 2022.
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.