Buck Steam Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Buck Steam Station is an operating power station of at least 698-megawatts (MW) in Spencer, Rowan, North Carolina, United States with multiple units, some of which are not currently operating.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Buck Steam Station Spencer, Rowan, North Carolina, United States 35.713647, -80.376511 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6: 35.713647, -80.376511
  • Unit CC1: 35.7133, -80.3767

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology CHP Start year Retired year
Unit 3 retired coal - bituminous 80 subcritical 1941 2011
Unit 4 retired coal - bituminous 40 subcritical 1942 2011
Unit 5 retired coal - bituminous 125 subcritical 1953 2013
Unit 6 retired coal - bituminous 125 subcritical 1953 2013
Unit CC1 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas, fossil liquids - fuel oil[2] 698[1] combined cycle[1] 2011[1]

CHP is an abbreviation for Combined Heat and Power. It is a technology that produces electricity and thermal energy at high efficiencies. Coal units track this information in the Captive Use section when known.

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 3 Duke Energy Carolinas LLC [100.0%]
Unit 4 Duke Energy Carolinas LLC [100.0%]
Unit 5 Duke Energy Carolinas LLC [100.0%]
Unit 6 Duke Energy Carolinas LLC [100.0%]
Unit CC1 Duke Energy Carolinas LLC [100.0%]


Buck, Duke’s first large-scale power plant, began operating in 1926. Its first two units retired in 1979. Units 3 and 4, 120 megawatts combined, were commissioned from 1941 to 1942 and were retired in mid-2011. Units 5 and 6, 250 megawatts combined and commissioned in 1953, were retired in April 2013. Three gas-fired combustion turbine units were retired in October 2012. The site is now home of the new Buck Combined Cycle Plant, a 620-megawatt natural gas facility that came on line in late 2011.[3][4]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 1,803,198 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Proposed Duke coal unit closures

In September 2010, Duke Energy said it might close seven coal-fired units at its Carolinas power plants within five years as environmental regulations intensify. It may retire by 2015 all coal-fired units for which it's not economical to install sulfur dioxide controls called scrubbers. That would increase by 890 megawatts the coal plants Duke had planned to retire in 2009. The retired units would be at Duke's Riverbend Steam Station in Gaston County, Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, and Lee Steam Plant in Anderson County, S.C. Duke said it might convert Lee from coal to natural gas fuel.[5]

Duke has already agreed to retire 800 megawatts of older coal units as part of an N.C. permit to build a new 825-megawatt unit under construction at the Cliffside Plant in Rutherford County. That will shutter four old units at Cliffside, two at Buck, three at Dan River Steam Station, and two at Riverbend.[5]

Duke's projections show the amount of its electricity generated with coal falling from 42 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2030. The share from nuclear power, in contrast, stays steady at 51 percent. The utility continues to plan for a new nuclear plant, its first since the mid-1980s, to open in Gaffney, S.C., in about 2020. Duke is also building two gas-fired power plants, to open at Buck in late 2011 and at Dan River in late 2012.[5]

On February 1, 2013, Duke announced it will close Buck and Riverbend Steam Station in April 2013, ahead of schedule, saying the plants were being little used.[6]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Buck Steam Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Buck Steam Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 9 $63,000,000
Heart attacks 13 $1,400,000
Asthma attacks 140 $7,000
Hospital admissions 6 $150,000
Chronic bronchitis 5 $2,300,000
Asthma ER visits 8 $3,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal Waste Sites

Buck ranked 88th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[9] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[10]

Buck Steam Station ranked number 88 on the list, with 279,190 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[9]

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundments

Buck Steam Station has 3 coal ash surface impoundments on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[11]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 https://web.archive.org/web/20200612191408/https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860m/archive/xls/november_generator2019.xlsx. Archived from the original on 12 June 2020. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20211122185052/https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860m/archive/xls/july_generator2021.xlsx. Archived from the original on 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "Buck Steam Station," Duke Energy, accessed Oct 2017
  4. Bruce Henderson, "Duke Energy will close two aging coal plants in April," Charlotte Observer, Feb. 1, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bruce Henderson, "Duke considers closing old coal plants" Charlotte Observer, Sep. 2, 2010.
  6. Bruce Henderson, "Duke Energy will close two aging coal plants in April," Charlotte Observer, Feb. 1, 2013.
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  10. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  11. Coal waste

Additional data

To access additional data, including interactive maps of the power stations, downloadable datases, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker and the Global Oil and Gas Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.