Progress Energy Inc. will close 11 coal-burning power plants in North Carolina that don't have scrubbers by 2017, the Raleigh electric utility said.
The units near Wilmington, Moncure, Lumberton and Goldsboro represent about 30 percent of the company's power generation from coal. The company will continue to operate three coal-fired plants in North Carolina after 2017 that are equipped with emission controls at a cost of more than $2 billion.
"Coal-fueled generation will continue to be vital to our ability to meet customer electricity needs," Progress Energy Carolinas president and CEO Lloyd Yates said Tuesday in a statement. "But as environmental regulations continue to change, and as even more significant rule changes appear likely in the near future, the costs of retrofitting and operating these plants will increase dramatically."
The plan was prompted by state regulators ordering the company to provide retirement plans for the coal-burning plants that lack scrubbers to reduce emissions. The request was part of the state Utilities Commission's approval in October of Progress Energy's plan to build a massive power plant fueled by cleaner natural gas near Goldsboro.
Some plants to be closed are more than 50 years old.
The announcement does not effect a coal-fired plant near Hartsville, S.C.