Progress Energy to build $900M plant in Goldsboro

Posted August 18, 2009

Progress Energy plans to shutter the H.F. Lee Plant near Goldsboro and replace it with a 950-megawatt gas-fired power plant.

— Progress Energy announced plans Tuesday to shut down three coal-fired power plants near Goldsboro and seek state approval to build a state-of-the-art natural gas-fueled plant at the site.

If approved, the $900 million plant would create up to 500 construction jobs, company officials said. It would open in 2013 and generate 950 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling the output of the existing H.F. Lee Plant, officials said.

"This is an important milestone for our company and for our state," Lloyd Yates, president and chief executive of Progress Energy Carolinas, said in a statement. "The Lee Plant has been producing electricity reliably and cost-effectively for our customers for more than 50 years, but as emission targets continue to change and as legislation to reduce carbon emissions appears likely, we believe, in this case, it's in the best interest of our customers to invest in advanced-design, cleaner-burning generation for the future."

North Carolina plans to implement tougher standards for air pollution emissions in 2013.

Progress Energy officials said the gas-fired plant would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 95 percent and would eliminate mercury and sulfur-dioxide emissions.

The three coal-fired units in the Lee Plant, located on the Neuse River west of Goldsboro, were built in 1951, 1952 and 1962.

In 2000, the company built four combustion-turbine units next to the Lee Plant, called the Wayne County Energy Complex, and a fifth combustion turbine was added this year. Those units are used primarily as peaking plants to meet increased demand for electricity on the hottest and coldest days of the year.

State lawmakers last month approved legislation to streamline the certification process to switch technologies like Progress Energy plans to do.

The project also will involve the construction of a natural gas pipeline to fuel the new plan. Company officials said the pipeline would extend large-volume gas supply further into eastern North Carolina, which could be a catalyst for future economic development in the region.

"This is the best of both worlds," Yates said. "Advanced technology that brings cleaner air in about three years, and an extension of the gas infrastructure to attract and retain business and industry to create jobs and economic growth for many years to come."

The additional generating capacity will be used to meet the demands of a growing customer service area, officials said.

"Coal-fueled power will continue to be vital to our ability to meet customer needs reliably and affordably in future years," Yates said. "We have already invested more than $1.3 billion in clean-air equipment at our largest units, and we have reduced emissions dramatically."

About 70 people work at the Lee Plant. Progress Energy officials said they would work to ensure that as many as possible will have jobs at the new facility or opportunities to move to other positions in the company.


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  • Worland Aug 19, 2009

    Natural gas vehicles have been around for decades. They are used extensively on the West Coast and Rocky Mountain regions where natural gas is dirt cheap.

    Converting our tractor-trailers to natural gas is not practicle. LNG & CNG is not available in most of the country. LNG costs 50-100% more than gasoline without delivering the same amount of energy. The conversion ads several hundred pounds of weight to a vehicle too. Multi-fuel (gas & liquid) engines are already available from Ford/Volvo.

    Natural gas is great in Utah and Wyoming, where LNG sells for less than $1 a gallon (benefit of being a resident where the resource is plentiful). At $3-$5 a gallon on the East Coast, it'll be a tough sell. Not to mention, most of the natural gas out here is made from oil. Same for hydrogen and propane. So much for reducing our dependancy on foreign oil. Nice try.

  • Worland Aug 19, 2009

    I would have been much happier to hear that the new plant was Nuclear powered. Natural gas in this region is expensive. Millions of tons of natural gas bubble to the surface every year right off of our coast, yet we're not allowed to tap it. 100 years worth of natural gas being wasted because of silly/outdated environmental laws. Not to mention what all that carbon rich gas is doing to the planet's atmosphere (if you believe in that kind of thing).

  • dhamma Aug 18, 2009

    I really don't see the correlation between replacing outdated power plants and trusting the government or trusting the government on health care for that matter. Obviously the need to be replaced if they are that old, and if they were replaced with Coal burning plants then someone who happened to live close by would be here screaming 'not in my backyard'.

  • WTFover Aug 18, 2009

    Gas is good!!

  • flyguync Aug 18, 2009

    I sure wish the headline had read "Progress Energy to Build Nuclear Power Plant". Oh, that's right, the environmentalists don't want us to do that. We are going to run out of fossil fuels at some point, and the windmills are not going to cut it.

  • wildervb Aug 18, 2009

    This is good since natural gas is less polluting than coal. Also having the Natural gas pipelines will be good for the entire area.

    It seems we have plenty of Natural Gas, there's a proposal that might be backed up by our department of Energy to convert diesal trucks to natural gas. This alone would save around 2.5 million barrels of oil a day!

  • OhYea Aug 18, 2009

    GRAB YOUR WALLETS IF YOU USE NATURAL GAS!!! Here comes more change.

  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 18, 2009

    whatelseisnew is right. More demand for gas means higher costs for all natural gas consumers. This happened a few years ago when gas turbines were the rage (it's not anymore because they are expensive to run). It is going to drive up the cost of electricity too. Natural gas is about twice as expensive as coal per BTU. Also, gas is less efficient to burn than coal (higher stack loss).

    This is about regulation and costs. The cost to build a gas fired plant is a lot less than a coal one, but it is about twice as expensive to operate. Of course, we'll all pay for it because the rate commission will grant the rate increases needed to fuel it.

    This is also about potential carbon taxes too. Nat gas being hydrogen rich (~CH4) produces less CO2 (and more water vapor) than coal, which is almost all carbon. Thus, a smaller carbon footprint.

  • withnailharrison Aug 18, 2009

    "NOW here is a GREAT example of why people don't trust government. Last week there was a story on WRAL that talked about the I-540 construction, and how that 1 billion dollar project would "SAVE or CREATE" 30,000 jobs....Now here is a private company that's building roughly the same size project, and they're only creating 500 jobs. Now you want the government handling your healthcare?"

    Logic like this defies common sense. They're totally different kinds of construction projects NCcarguy. One is low design, high manual labor(more jobs), the other is high design, low maunal labor (fewer jobs). Get it?

  • wls47 Aug 18, 2009

    I'm not certain about the comments of others, but I applaud Progress Energy for shutting down coal fired plants. They are extremely dirty and polluting. I don't mind paying even two dollars more a month if it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. My son thanks you, too, as he will breathe cleaner air.