Gas-fired combined cycle to replace North Carolina coal plant

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Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, will officially close the coal-fired H.F. Lee power plant near Goldsboro, N.C., Sept. 15.

Located on the Neuse River west of Goldsboro, the plant was one of the first major construction projects in the utility's post-World War II expansion.

A second coal-fired unit was added the following year and a third unit added in the 1960s brought the coal plant's total coal generating capacity to 382 megawatts (MW). The site's four oil-fueled combustion turbine

 units, with a total capacity of 75 MW, will be retired Oct. 1, 2012.

In addition to retiring older, small coal plants, the utility's fleet-modernization strategy also includes building new natural gas

-fueled combined-cycle units on property between the Lee Plant and the Wayne County Energy Complex.

The new, 920-MW natural gas

-fueled combined-cycle facility and corresponding natural gas 

pipeline extension is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2013.

This state-of-the-art facility, along with the five dual-fueled combustion turbines


 at the existing Wayne County Energy Complex, will be called the H.F. Lee Energy Complex when the project is completed. Total generation capacity of the site will approach 1,800 MW.

PEC retired its coal-fired W.H. Weatherspoon power plant near Lumberton, N.C., Oct. 1, 2011, the first retirement under the utility's fleet-modernization plan.

Other plants slated for retirement include the Cape Fear Plant near Moncure, N.C. (Oct. 1, 2012), the Robinson coal-fired unit near Hartsville, S.C. (Oct. 1, 2012) and the L.V. Sutton Plant near Wilmington, N.C. (late 2013). Once the retirements are complete, the utility will have retired all of its coal-fired units that do not have advanced environmental controls.

The utility's coal-fired unit retirements represent more than 1,600 MW, or approximately one-third of its coal-generating fleet.

In addition to the new Lee facility, the utility is building a 625-MW facility at its Sutton site. Commercial operation, including a corresponding natural gas

 pipeline extension, is expected at the end of 2013.

The utility also added 584 MW of natural gas

-fueled generation at its Sherwood H. Smith Jr. Energy Complex near Hamlet, N.C., in June 2011.