Progress Energy to shutter Lumberton power plant

Posted September 27, 2011

— Progress Energy will shut down a coal-fired power plant near Lumberton on Saturday, officials said Tuesday.

The W.H. Weatherspoon Power Plant, which began operation in 1949, is the first to be retired under Progress' modernization program.

Named for a retired Carolina Power & Light company executive, the Weatherspoon plant was the first major construction project in the company’s post-World War II expansion. Two more coal-fired units were added in the 1950s, bringing the plant’s total coal generating capacity to 177 megawatts.

Four peak-power units at the site, fueled by natural gas and oil, were added in the 1970s and will continue to operate as needed to meet customer demand, officials said.

In 2009, Progress Energy announced a plan to shut down 11 coal-burning units at four sites in North Carolina. Other plants slated for retirement include the H.F. Lee Plant near Goldsboro, the L.V. Sutton Plant near Wilmington and the Cape Fear Plant near Moncure.

The retirements, representing about 1,500 megawatts, or 30 percent of Progress’ coal-fired generating fleet in North Carolina, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

Progress has invested more than $1 billion in technology to reduce emissions at the Roxboro and Mayo plants in Person County and the Asheville Plant in Buncombe County. The company will continue to operate those coal-fired facilities after the others are retired.

A 920-megawatt natural gas-fueled plant is under construction at the Lee Plant site near Goldsboro. That project, including a gas pipeline extension, is expected to begin commercial operation in January 2013.

At the Sutton Plant site near Wilmington, Progress is building a gas-fueled plant with a generating capacity of 625 megawatts. That addition, with a corresponding natural gas pipeline extension into southeastern North Carolina, is expected to be online at the end of 2013.


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