November 29, 2021
Duke takes the first step in dismantling its ‘backbone' power plant

Duke's Crystal River coal-powered plant was replaced with a $1.5-billion, 1,640-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant.

Back Breaking

Duke takes the first step in dismantling its ‘backbone' power plant

Art Levy | 8/31/2021

For more than 50 years, Duke Energy Florida’s twin-unit coal power plant in Crystal River routinely delivered 915 megawatts of power. The plant was so dependable, in fact, that it earned the nickname “the backbone.” In 2017, for instance, when Hurricane Irma impacted each of the 35 Florida counties in Duke’s service territory, the Crystal River coal plant remained in service, helping to supply electricity to Duke’s 1.7 million Florida customers.

In 2018, to comply with more stringent federal environmental regulations, the coal plant was retired and replaced with a $1.5-billion, 1,640-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant. The move was part of a larger Duke plan that calls for reducing carbon dioxide emissions statewide by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

“By investing in the new Citrus station, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions have dropped by 90% in comparison to the operation at the now retired coal-fired units,” says Heather Danenhower, a Duke communications manager.

The question then became what to do with “the backbone” — and the answer was to make it go away.

In June, Duke imploded the plant’s two 200-foot-tall by 125-foot-wide power houses that consisted of boilers, steam turbine generators, drums, motors, pumps and pipes. Two remaining 500-foot-tall stacks will be knocked down later this year.

“One hundred percent of the steel, copper and other metals, along with the concrete, will be recycled,” Danenhower says. “We estimate recycling about 33,500 tons of scrap steel and non-ferrous metal.”


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