Choose State Change Location
About Us » New Generation » Coal Plant Decommissioning Program

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

Implosion phase, H.F. Lee Plant

Implosion phase, H.F. Lee Plant

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 yes no

Cliffside Steam Station

yes yes yes yes no no

Dan River Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

H.F. Lee Plant

yes yes yes yes yes no

Riverbend Steam Station

yes yes yes no no no

Robinson Plant

yes yes yes no no no

Sutton Plant

yes yes yes yes no no

W.C. Beckjord Plant

yes no no no no no

W.H. Weatherspoon Plant

yes yes yes yesyesno

W.S. Lee Steam Station

yes no no no 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

The 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
Schedules for closing basins depend significantly on a variety of factors, including state requirements, the amount of ash at the site, whether plant system conversions are needed and whether new storage facilities will need to be designed, permitted and constructed. For additional information, please visit our ash management page.