Duke Energy may close several coal-fired power plants

Duke Energy said Wednesday it might close seven coal-fired units at its Carolinas power plants within five years as environmental regulations intensify.

Federal regulators are expected to stiffen limits on pollutants that form smog, acid rain and haze and issue new rules for toxic mercury and coal ash, Duke said in an annual planning document filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Shutting down old units can be cheaper for utilities than refitting them with new pollution controls.

Duke said it may retire by 2015 all coal-fired units for which it's not economical to install sulfur-dioxide controls called scrubbers. That would increase by 890 megawatts the coal plants Duke had planned to retire a year ago.

The retired units would be at Duke’s Riverbend plant in Gaston County, Buck plant in Rowan County and Lee plant in Anderson County, S.C.

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