Duke to retire coal plant; pushes for gas

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Duke Energy Ohio anticipates it will retire all six coal-fired generation units at its W.C. Beckjord Station, southwest of Cincinnati, by Jan. 1, 2015, as a result of a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule. 

The company plans to retire the coal-fired units of 862MW at the nearly 60-year-old plant in 2015 due to EPA's recently proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. EPA intends to finalize the rule in Nov. 2011, with required emission control technologies to be installed by Jan. 1, 2015.

The Beckjord Station decision is largely based on the age of the coal-fired units and the prohibitive cost of implementing the new MACT technology requirements. The anticipated retirement date is contingent on potential changes to the implementation for EPA's MACT rule and other environmental regulations.


Barring a change to plant economics - including variables like fuel costs, power prices, and capital and maintenance expenses - Duke Energy intends to continue operating the coal-fired units through the anticipated 2015 retirement date to help meet regional demand for electricity.

As outlined in its 2011 Resource Plan, Duke Energy Ohio plans to meet demand following the retirement of Beckjord's coal-fired units through the purchase of electricity on the competitive wholesale market or the construction/acquisition of natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating assets.

The construction of the W.C. Beckjord Station was announced on Nov. 10, 1948, at a location 18 miles upstream of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. The site was dedicated on June 12, 1952, with the first 100-MW unit in commercial operation. Five additional coal-fired units were added by 1969. Four oil-fired combustion turbines (CTs) were added in the early 1970s.

Duke Energy Ohio owns 100 percent of the first five generating units at the station, and jointly owns unit 6 (37.5 percent ownership) with American Electric Power Co. (12.5 percent) and Dayton Power and Light Co. (50 percent).

Duke Energy Ohio owns all four CT units, which are capable of producing 244 MW of electricity and are primarily used for generating power during periods of high demand. The company has no plans to retire the CT units.