Some area residents may have heard an explosion this weekend as one of three boilers at Duke Energy’s old coal-fired plant went down with a blast.
On Sunday morning, the energy company successfully completed the implosion of one of three boilers at the retired coal-fired L.V. Sutton Plant located at 801 Sutton Steam Plant Road, off North US 421 in New Hanover County, according to Duke Energy Spokesman Jeff Brooks.
“This is an important milestone in the retirement of the plant, and in Duke Energy’s plans to shift to cleaner, more efficient energy sources in North Carolina,” Brooks said.
The purpose of a boiler in a coal-fired plant is to combust coal to create heat. The heat then makes steam from water circulated through the boiler, which is used to turn a turbine to make electricity, Brooks said.
The three-unit, 575-megawatt coal-fired Sutton Plant is located near Wilmington, includes three small combustion turbines. The coal-fired units were retired in November 2013 when a new, gas-fired 625-megawatt combined-cycle unit came into service, Brooks said. The new natural gas units generate electricity more efficiently for customers and with lower emissions than the coal plant did during its operation.
The April 10 implosion is the first of three similar events to take place at the Sutton Plant. Since 2013, the team has prepared the site for full demolition. Part of the work includes removing the two “iconic” red-and-white striped smokestacks using a remote device that was attached to the smokestacks and removed the structure piece by piece, Brooks said.
That work has continued for several months and the company expects this phase to be completed in coming weeks. The next implosion event is scheduled in May. The final demolition event will take place in the fall of 2016.