Duke to Close 862-MW Coal Plant on MACT Rule Concerns

Duke Energy’s 862-MW W.C. Beckjord Station southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, is the latest coal-fired power plant that will be shuttered as a result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recently proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule.

Duke subsidiary Duke Energy Ohio said on Friday that it would retire all six coal-fired units at the 60-year-old plant by Jan. 1, 2015. The EPA intends to finalize the MACT rule by November 2011. Utilities may be required to install necessary emission control technologies by January 2015.

“The Beckjord Station decision is largely based on the age of the coal-fired units and the prohibitive cost—to which our customers would be exposed—of implementing the new MACT technology requirements,” the company said. “The anticipated retirement date is contingent on potential changes to the implementation for EPA’s MACT rule and other environmental regulations.”

Duke said it would continue operating the units until 2015 to meet regional demand—but that it could shutter the plant earlier if plant economics, such as fuel costs, power prices, and capital and maintenance expenses, changed. Capacity lost by closing the coal-fired units would be replaced with the construction or acquisition of natural gas–fired combined cycle generating assets, the company said.

The construction of the W.C. Beckjord Station was announced on Nov. 10, 1948, at a location 18 miles upstream of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. The site was dedicated on June 12, 1952, with the first 100-MW unit in commercial operation. Five additional coal-fired units were added by 1969. Four oil-fired combustion turbines (CTs) were added in the early 1970s. Duke Energy Ohio, which owns all four CT units worth a combined 244 MW, said it has no plans to retire the CT units.

Beckjord Station employs approximately 120 Duke Energy personnel. “Some employees might be offered the opportunity to work at other Duke Energy plants. The company will work closely with employees and unions to determine potential options for impacted workers,” the company said.

Duke Energy Ohio owns 100% of the first five generating units at the station, and jointly owns unit 6 (37.5% ownership) with American Electric Power Co. (12.5%) and Dayton Power and Light Co. (50%).

Sources: POWERnews, Duke Energy

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