Capital Power

Capital Power's solid-fuel plant in Southport.

As Capital Power counts down to a March 31 final closure, the Canada-based company has notified neighbors about some of its plans which include decommissioning the Southport plant, also called CPI, this year possibly into 2022.

Duke Energy, which owns the land where Capital has an 88-megawatt wood, tire and coal-burning plant, offered no specifics about future uses for the land, other than to say it would not have a fossil fuel-burning generator.

“We are now developing plans to safely secure the facility after operations end and want to ensure that the site is managed in an environmentally sound way,” Capital General Manager Frank Hayward wrote in a recent letter. “Following the completion of operations, we plan to start a decommissioning process, which should take four to eight weeks to complete. This will be followed by equipment removal, building demolition and salvage and then site reclamation. This work is expected to continue through 2021 and possibly into 2022. We have hired an experienced project manager and have retained an environmental consulting firm to assist us with this process. The land where the plant is located is owned by Duke Energy and through discussion with them, we are aware that they are developing plans for the site’s future.

“We will be sharing more information with you and other area residents and stakeholders as our plans and the timing of activities are determined …”

The company stated residents would receive updates by mail and could send contact information to publicconsultation@capitalpower.com. Those with questions may call 877-703-5005.

Next steps

A Duke Energy spokesperson said the company would share plans for the future with neighbors once they are better developed.

“Once the Capital Power plant is demolished, the property cleaned and all terms of the lease are satisfied, the land will be returned to Duke Energy as part of the Brunswick plant’s 1,200 acre site,” a prepared statement said. “At this point, Duke Energy has no specific plans for the property. We are committed to being good neighbors and recognize there is considerable public interest in future development at the site. When we have a clearer idea for how the site could be used, we will share those plans with our neighbors.  

If residents have concerns they are always welcome to share them with us by writing to Brunswick.plant@Duke-energy.com.”

Stormwater and wastewater that came into contact with bottom ash and was being discharged through Duke’s canal emptying into the ocean off Caswell Beach put Capital on the radar for environmentalists in 2019.

Some residents complained that even after a major ash-spewing incident several years ago, they still have to contend with soot, ash and a dark, oily material that periodically accumulates on homes, yards and vehicles.

Southport Mayor Joe Pat Hatem said the plant’s closure was a win for the environment.

“The closing of Capital Power Inc. on March 31 will set an example for the State of North Carolina and their commitment to protecting our coastal habitat, waters, wildlife, and our overall environment, which by doing so, will protect and preserve the health of our citizens,” Hatem stated in an email. “N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has learned how fragile our rivers, streams, and waterways can be from past environmental disasters and I believe they will perform the necessary testing to ensure the site and canal will be clear of toxins and will be environmentally safe for the future.

“CPI, in my discussions with them, is passionate about being good partners with our state and our community and I have the utmost confidence that they will cooperate in every way to make this a successful and secure decommissioning. I will continue to monitor the progress towards the closing of CPI and will keep the citizens informed.”