WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Duke Energy Progress' new 625-megawatt L.V. Sutton combined-cyle natural gas plant has begun serving North Carolina and South Carolina customers, according to a news release.
Duke Energy officials say this represents a significant milestone in the company's ongoing commitment to generate electricity in cleaner, more efficient way.
The approximately $600 million plant replaces the existing three-unit, 575 MW coal-fired plant that the company recently retired after 59 years of service.
The following is an excerpt of a news release from Duke Progress Energy:
The plant uses state-of-the-art technology and air quality controls that result in significantly lower emissions than those of the coal plant it replaces. The following figures are compared to coal plant operations in 2007:
"We continue to transform our power plant fleet while maintaining our focus on generating electricity that is both reliable and affordable," said Allen Clare, Duke Energy Progress' Sutton plant manager. "Our new natural gas plant is another stride forward in meeting customer needs using highly efficient, increasingly clean energy sources."
To fund the new facility, customer rates have been increased over the past few years. A spokesperson for the company says that rates are expected to increase 1% in June 2014 as well.
The former coal plant will be broken down and demolished over the next few years over three phases. The first step is decommissioning, which includes cleaning the equipment, washing boilers, and removing hazardous material that might need extra attention.
The next step is the demolition phase followed by the restoration phase.
Duke Energy Progress spokeswoman, Erin Culbert says this new facility will greatly improve the environment and customer satisfaction.
"This is an investment the company has made, but it's also an investment for our customers," said Culbert. "It reduces emissions and produces electricity in a more efficient way so we require less fuel to produce the same amount of electricity."
Additionally, 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.
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