In hopes of reducing emissions, Duke Energy is seeking an air permit to use a new coal blend in its oldest electricity generators at the Crystal River power complex.
Crystal River coal units 1 and 2 are facing retirement unless Duke can find a way to reduce their emissions and extend their lives. The units were built in the 1960s and provide about 840 megawatts of electricity.
Duke would like to extend the operation of the units until 2018, when the utility plans to bring online an 1,189 megawatt natural gas plant.
The natural gas plant would help compensate for the final closing of the coal units and the Crystal River nuclear plant, which Duke closed in February after a botched maintenance and upgrade project became too costly to fix.
Without the two older coal units and the nearly 900 megawatt nuclear reactor, Duke will lose more than half of the power produced at the Crystal River complex, the nation's seventh largest generating station. The complex includes two other coal plants that have been updated with emission control devices often referred to as scrubbers.
"We're looking to see if we can burn an alternative source of coal that has a reduced emissions... so we don't have to put scrubbers on the two units," said Sterling Ivey, a Duke spokesman.
Public comment on Duke's requested air permit ends July 3.