Three N.C. coal plants to be replaced by natural gas plant

RALEIGH — Progress Energy plans to shut down three coal-fired power plants in Wayne County and build a natural gas-fueled plant at the site.

The $900 million project would increase the amount of electricity produced at the site while reducing pollution, the Raleigh-based utility announced Tuesday.

The proposal requires approval by the N.C. Utilities Commission. But last month state lawmakers passed a bill that will give Progress a streamlined certification process.

Progress wanted the new legislation because otherwise it could have been forced to install expensive scrubbers to reduce pollution at the coal plants, rather than replace them. Natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide produced by coal and virtually no mercury.

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