An innovative effort by Duke Energy is turning old utility poles and other waste wood into electricity – creating a recycling effort that is truly full circle.
Duke Energy purchases about 30,000 wooden utility poles annually – a vital component in delivering electricity to customers. Over time, those poles need replacing. So what happens to the old poles and other wood waste?
In the past, a small portion of the material was donated or reused, but more than 90 percent of our 13,000 tons of waste wood was sent to landfills every year. Duke Energy now contracts with a vendor, National Salvage and Service, to collect and repurpose or recycle wood waste from most of our service territories. Today about 30 percent of the wood is repurposed as wood products (poles, fence posts, and pallets), and 60 percent is shredded and used as fuel for electricity generation, leaving less than 10 percent of our wood waste for disposal in landfills.
In the Carolinas, wood that cannot be repurposed is shredded at a new facility near Goldsboro, North Carolina. The area has suffered from high unemployment and this facility has created much-needed jobs for the community. The shredded wood is trucked to a biomass plant where it is burned to generate electricity. In most cases, the power is sold to ... you guessed it ... Duke Energy.
From reduced landfill use, to job creation, to renewable energy, this program is a “win” for our company, our communities and our environment.