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Energy from Coal

Energy from Coal

Coal plants have helped Duke Energy reliably meet customer needs for more than a century, powering growth and economic development in our local communities.

We are striving to provide cleaner energy to customers by modernizing and diversifying our fuel sources while cutting carbon dioxide emissions from generation in half by 2030 and targeting net-zero by 2050.

Since 2010, we have retired more than 7,500 megawatts (MW) of energy from coal-fired units and invested in natural gas and renewable energy sources, while maintaining reliability and rates below the national average. We have also reduced carbon emissions by 44% (from 2005 levels), in part due to coal plant retirements. The company plans to fully exit coal by 2035.

Our carbon reduction plan includes:

  • Doubling our portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables
  • Continuing to deploy low-cost natural gas to speed the transition from coal, while maintaining reliability
  • Adding new technologies into our generation portfolio like advanced nuclear and hydrogen
  • Expanding energy storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Continuing to operate existing carbon-free technologies, including nuclear and renewables

Duke Energy is the largest power generator in the nation to adopt a net-zero carbon goal, representing one of the most significant environmental commitments in the U.S. power sector.


Duke Energy has used coal to produce energy in the Carolinas since 1911. The first coal-fired plants in Greensboro, N.C., and Greenville, S.C., originally only supplemented the company's use of hydroelectricity.

This changed in the 1920s when energy demand exceeded what the hydroelectric stations could generate.

Duke Energy started using coal as a primary fuel source when the 369-MW Buck Steam Station in Spencer, N.C., started generating energy in 1926.

The Buck station could produce six times more energy than the company's largest hydroelectric station at the time, the 60-MW Wylie Hydroelectric Station.