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Duke Energy accelerates shut down of coal power plant (USA)

Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, will accelerate the retirement of one coal-fired power plant in North Carolina previously slated for closing in 2013, and will retire the utility’s only coal-fired unit in South Carolina.

The 316 MW Cape Fear coal-fired plant, located near Moncure, North Carolina, and the 177 MW H.B. Robinson Unit 1 coal-fired plant, located near Hartsville, South Carolina, will be retired on October 1, 2012. Both will remain on-line through the summer season to help meet heightened electricity demand.

The Cape Fear Plant is the utility’s first coal-fired facility and was scheduled to retire in June 2013 as part of the company’s fleet-modernization plan, announced in 2009. Three oil-fired combustion turbines will continue to operate at the site after the coal plant’s retirement.

The Robinson coal plant in South Carolina began operation in 1960 and is located on the same site as the 724 MW Robinson nuclear plant. The decision to take the 52-year-old Robinson coal plant offline was made due to pending changes in environmental regulations and other rising costs for smaller, older technology plants. The cost of adding state-of-the-art emission controls on the small unit would be hundreds of millions of dollars. The upcoming commissioning of a new natural gas-fired generation at the H.F. Lee Plant near Goldsboro, N.C., and lower gas prices also contributed to this decision.

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