Progress Energy Delays New Plant Construction, Targets Conservation

Utility company seeks alternative means of meeting growing demands for energy.

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Progress Energy
RALEIGH, N.C. — Progress Energy Carolinas is putting off plans for new power plants at least two years, choosing instead to stress conservation and reduction in demand for power.

The company said in a statement Thursday afternoon that its conservation program is intended to reduce demand by 2,000 megawatts of power. If successful, the plan would produce power savings equivalent to the power produced by more than six plants utilizing combustion turbines.

As part of its plan, Progress said it would not propose any new coal-fired plants over the next two years and also push back the possible construction of an additional nuclear plant at the Shearon Harris site in Wake County. If a new plant is built there, it would not be online before 2018, the company said.

Progress announced last week it would not appeal the rejection of a new plant it wanted to build in western North Carolina. Duke Energy, meanwhile, disclosed on Thursday that the cost to build a new plan has skyrocketed 24 percent. Duke also plans to seek a rate increase of more than 6 percent,

The strategy is designed to help Progress meet ever-increasing demand for power, according to Bob McGehee, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“We are at an energy crossroads in the Carolinas,” McGehee said in a statement. “The growth in our service area is equivalent to a fully built-out, medium-sized city each year. Our homes and businesses are more dependent on reliable electricity than ever before. And our world has become much more aware of global climate issues and the factors that affect climate change. These decisions will position our company to help shape climate-change policy as it is being developed.”

McGehee said Progress would seek to meet demand by convincing customers to use less electricity while also inventing new ways to produce and deliver power.

In addition to improving its own energy efficiency, Progress said it would work with businesses and the U.S. military on energy conservation.

Business users and military bases consumed more than 60 percent of Progress’ power production in 2006, the company said.

Progress also laid out plans to help consumers be more energy efficient. Specific steps include:

• Installation of a new generation of programmable thermostats and water heater control devices to help regulate on-peak energy use in homes and businesses.

• Increased residential HVAC maintenance, as well as duct testing and repair.

• Large-scale replacement of incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs.

• Increased energy education and awareness, including in-home energy assessments and the use of new digital displays that provide real-time energy use and cost information for homeowners.

• Research and investments in new, clean fuel-cell technology for home and business electrical generation.

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