Saturday, March 03, 2007

Duke Energy Denied Plans to Construct Coal-fired Power Plant Due to Rising Costs of Coal

Duke Energy Corp's request to build two new 800 megawatt coal-fired power plants at a site in North Carolina was denied Wednesday by state utility regulators.

Citing soaring cost estimates for the power plants, which have increased more than 50% from original estimates, the state Utility Commission ruled that Duke could only construct one coal plant, and even then, only if the utility retired four aging coal-fired units as soon as the new plant came online.

Duke Energy would also be required to invest at least one percent of its annual retail revenues from electricity sales in energy efficiency programs.

The Utility Commission sided with critics of the proposal who argued that Duke should look to renewable and conservation to meet growing demand, instead of building new coal-fired power plants [this decision echoes the recent decision in Oregon denying PacifiCorp's request to build new coal-fired power plants, see previous post].

If Duke Energy opts to build one new 800 MW power plant at their Cliffside Steam Station site, they will be required to shutter the four existing generators at the Cliffside site, which have a total capacity of 198 MW.

This Utility Commission decision also reflected concerns from residents living near the Cliffside site that new coal-fired generation at the site in addition to the current aging coal-fired generation at the site would greatly increase local air pollution.

Only one commissioner dissented from the ruling, and did so because he believed the entire proposal should have been thrown out.

There's more at Hemscott Investment News here.

[Image from: Think Progress.org]

2 comments:

clee said...

Thanks for the interesting post. However, it makes it sound like Duke would have to shut down four 200MW plants, shutting down a total of 800MW of old plants after they open a new 800MW new plant. That sounded very strange to me.

Looking at http://today.reuters.com/news/articleinvesting.aspx?view=CN&storyID=2007-02-28T213326Z_01_N28234718_RTRIDST_0_UTILITIES-DUKE-CLIFFSIDE.XML I find that "Those older units together have a generating capacity of 198 megawatts." so Duke will end up with more generating capacity, which was their goal.

Hopefully the overall result will be cleaner.

WattHead said...

Thanks for the comment Clee. I was misinformed. I will correct the post. Cheers.