Reducing our reliance on mountaintop coal
Mountaintop-removal coal mining — surface mining that’s accomplished by removing the tops of mountains where the seams of coal are too thin to mine any other way — remains controversial.
In the Carolinas, we buy the majority of our plants’ coal from Central Appalachia, where an estimated 25 percent of the coal comes from mountaintop mines. Our plants in the Carolinas were designed to burn Central Appalachian coal, so switching to fuel from a different coal basin is difficult and requires extensive tolerance-level testing.
During 2011, Duke Energy tested non-Central Appalachian coal in various quantities and blends at several of our plants in the Carolinas. Test results are still being reviewed, but current plans are to burn blends of non-Central Appalachian coals starting in 2012.
In addition, we continue our practice of purchasing Central Appalachian coal that does not come from mountaintop mines, when we can do so without paying a premium.
Duke Energy expects to reduce its dependency on Central Appalachian coal going forward, as economics and plant reliability warrant. State utility regulations require us to keep overall costs as low as possible for our customers.