Duke Energy Progress' natural gas plant at Wilmington, N.C., enters service

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Duke Energy Progress' new 625 MW L.V. Sutton combined-cycle natural gas plant has begun serving North Carolina and South Carolina customers. Duke Energy Progress is a unit of Duke Energy providing electricity to nearly 1.5 million customers in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The about $600-million plant replaces the existing three-unit, 575 MW coal-fired plant that the company recently retired after 59 years of service.

The new plant uses air quality controls that result in lower emissions than those of the coal plant it replaces. The following figures are compared to coal plant operations in 2007:

·      Sulfur dioxide will be reduced by 99 percent

·      Nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 97 percent

·      Carbon dioxide will be reduced by 41 percent

Duke Energy has invested $9 billion in the last 10 years to build several advanced natural gas and coal plants in North Carolina and Indiana. The new plants will allow the company to retire nearly 6,800 MW of older coal and large oil-fired units.

Nearly 6,300 MW of the capacity Duke Energy will retire is coal, which represents 25 percent of its coal fleet. By the end of 2013, Duke Energy will have retired more than 3,800 MW of that 6,300 MW, including the Sutton coal plant.

Sutton's first coal unit began operating in 1954; two additional units were added in 1955 and 1972, respectively.

Duke Energy soon will begin a multiyear decommissioning process that will result in safely deconstructing the coal units and effectively closing the site's coal ash basins to protect groundwater.

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