March 03, 2021

As one Brunswick power plant closes, another looks to extend operations

As one Brunswick County power plant closes, another is looking to extend its operations for another two decades.

Capital Power will close its power plant near Southport by the end of this month. But the nearby Brunswick Nuclear Plant is looking to extend its operating license for the next 20 years.

The two power plants are located less than 2 miles from each other near Southport.

Duke Energy is in the process of renewing its operating license for six of its nuclear power plants located throughout North and South Carolina - including the one near Southport.

The company expects to begin the renewal process of its largest nuclear power plant in western South Carolina this year. Renewals of the other plant licenses will follow, according to a press release from the company. The license renewal process through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission takes approximately five years.

The nuclear power plants generate roughly half of the electricity used by customers in North and South Carolina.

Duke Energy is looking to extend the operating licenses of its nuclear plants in order to reduce the carbon emissions the company generates, the release states.

The company aims to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and to become net-zero by 2050. Keeping its nuclear power plants operating is key to achieving these goals, according to the release.

The Brunswick County plant currently houses two nuclear units which began operating in the 1970s. It has a capacity of 1,870 megawatts -- enough to power more than 1 million homes. The plant is located along the Cape Fear River and uses water from the river in its nuclear reactor cooling system.

When the nearby power plant run by Capital Power closes this month, 44 workers will be laid off, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) documents. The plant generated energy by burning a mixture of coal, wood and tires and sold its power to Duke Energy and the nearby Archer Daniels Midland Company, a food processing plant.

The plant is closing because its power purchase agreement - a contract in which one company generates power and another uses it - expires at the end of March.

In 2020, the power plant was fined $474,000 by the state for exceeding its emissions limits. The plant's closing is not related to the environmental violations.

A Capital Power spokesperson told the StarNews in October that they would look for a new owner for the site.

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