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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. The long-term vision for sites with retired coal units across our system is to return them to ground level.

Understanding the process

Edwardsport Generating Station demolition

Demolition phase, Edwardsport Generating Station in Indiana

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.

During this phase, we perform shutdown activities, such as removing materials and cleaning equipment. Next, the plant is safely deconstructed part by part, and we salvage any equipment that can be recycled or repurposed at another location.

After the plant parts have been disassembled, a team of experts safely removes asbestos and appropriately disposes of it to ensure safe working conditions and environmental protection.

This step involves dismantling the site to ground level, removing all equipment, demolishing the structures and disposing of scrap material.

Demolition contractors may conduct one or more implosions at some sites to expedite the demolition phase.

In this phase, we backfill, grade and seed the land. By completing this step, we sustain the site for future use.

We are committed to closing the ash basins once they are no longer needed. In light of the Dan River event, a team of experts is taking another look the company’s ash management practices and basin closure options.

Buck Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

Cape Fear Plant

yes yes yes yes no no

Cliffside Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

Dan River Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

H.F. Lee Plant

yes yes yes yes no no

Riverbend Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

Robinson Plant

yes no no no no no

Sutton Plant

yes no no no no no

W.H. Weatherspoon Plant

yes yes yes yes no no

Note: This chart indicates the current stage at each plant.

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 closures

Duke Energy is committed to effectively closing ash basins once they are no longer needed, with approval from state regulators. We have been evaluating multiple closure options to ensure we select a method that protects groundwater long term and is prudent for our customers and plant neighbors. In light of the Dan River ash release event, we are taking another look at all of our ash basins across the fleet. Before this event, our focus was on closing ash basins at the recently retired coal plants in North Carolina. This remains a high priority, and we will work through those steps with regulatory and legislative input to ensure our decisions protect the environment and our communities. For additional information, please visit our ash management page.