Coal Plant Decommissioning Program
Decommissioning Program: Behind the Scenes
Duke Energy is committed to providing affordable, reliable, increasingly clean electricity. Older, less efficient coal plants are being replaced by advanced technology, powered by natural gas and cleaner coal.
Part of this commitment includes safely dismantling these older plants, part of a complex, multiyear process known as decommissioning and demolition. By the end of 2013, Duke Energy retired units at nine coal-fired generation sites in the Carolinas. In September 2014, the company retired the coal units at its W.C. Beckjord Station, located in Ohio. The long-term vision for sites with retired coal units across our system is to return them to ground level.
Understanding the process
During the early stages of the decommissioning and demolition project, we will remove chemicals and other materials, salvage what equipment we can recycle and repurpose at other sites and sell any scrap material. In the demolition and restoration phases, we will safely remove the powerhouse, chimneys and any auxiliary structures no longer needed and then fill, grade and seed the land.
This approach is best suited to ensure continued safety, security and environmental compliance at the site in the future, both for the company and the community. Duke Energy will continue to own and steward these properties, and some of them are home to other types of generation.
The decommissioning project also extends to some of our older natural gas-combustion turbine units across the generation fleet. These sites will move through a similar process as the coal-fired units.
Ash basin closuresThe vast majority of ash generated by Duke Energy today is already being managed dry and stored in on-site, lined landfills. Prior to the Dan River ash release, engineering work was well under-way to close ash basins at our retired coal plants. The company has accelerated that work to include closing all ash basins across our six-state service area, both at retired and operating coal plants. We’ve conducted thorough inspections at all of our facilities to ensure basins continue operating safely and reliably until closure. There are several options for closing ash basins. We believe that site-specific engineering should help inform the methods used and may include a combination of:
- Excavating and relocating ash to a fully lined structural fill
- Excavating and relocating the ash to a lined landfill (on site or off site)
- Capping the ash with an engineered synthetic barrier system, either in place or after being consolidated to a smaller area on site