G.G. Allen Steam Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

G.G. Allen Steam Plant is a 1,148.4-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Duke Energy near Belmont, North Carolina.


The undated satellite photo below shows the power station in Belmont.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Duke Energy Carolinas
  • Parent Company: Duke Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,148.4 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 163.2 MW (1957), Unit 2: 163.2 MW (1957), Unit 3: 272.0 MW (1959), Unit 4: 278.0 MW (1960), 272.0 MW (1961)
  • Location: 253 Plant Allen Rd., Belmont, NC 28012
  • GPS Coordinates: 35.190278, -81.008333
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Laurel Branch Surface (Clintwoord Elkhorn)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 3 is scheduled for retirement in March 2021, units 2 and 4 in 2022, and units 1 and 5 in 2024.[2]

Planned Retirement

In September 2015 Duke said it would close three units at its Allen Steam Station plant by the end of 2024, pay a US$975,000 civil penalty and spend US$4.4 million on environmental projects, as part of a settlement agreement on violations of the Clean Air Act by the company's North Carolina coal plants.[3] Units 4-5 are scheduled for retirement in 2028, according to the company's 2018 integrated resource plan, which would close the power station's final coal-fired units.[4]

A depreciation study filed by Duke Energy with the North Carolina Utilities Commission in 2019 highlighted the probable retirement of units 4 and 5 in 2024, at the same time as units 1, 2 and 3.[5]

In February 2021, Duke said the retirement of unit 3 was being moved up to March 31, 2021. Duke must retire three of its Allen units by 2024, following a 2016 settlement with environmentalists over the utility's violations of the Clean Air Act. Units 2 and 4 of the plant are listed for 2022 retirement, and 1 and 5 are slated for 2024.[2]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 6,366,564 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 45,395 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 8,398 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 227 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Allen Steam Plant

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.[6] 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.[7]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Allen Steam Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 59 $430,000,000
Heart attacks 89 $9,700,000
Asthma attacks 990 $51,000
Hospital admissions 44 $1,000,000
Chronic bronchitis 37 $16,000,000
Asthma ER visits 54 $20,000

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

Renewal plant permit approved, with modifications

On Jan. 18, 2011, renewal permits for Duke Energy's Marshall Steam Station, Riverbend Steam Station, and G.G. Allen Steam Plant were approved by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources division of water quality. Riverbend and Allen steam stations in Gaston County.The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits were renewed with some changes for the coal-fired power facilities that allow the discharge of treated wastewater to the Catawba River Basin, according to information from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.[8]

According to the department, the changes include:[8]

  • Quarterly monitoring for mercury was added to outfall from the coal ash ponds at the Riverbend Steam Station. This will establish a monitoring plan for mercury, selenium and arsenic that is consistent for all three permits.
  • Fish tissue monitoring, at least once per permit cycle, has been added to all three permits.
  • Semi-annual in-stream monitoring was added for arsenic, selenium, mercury, chromium, lead, cadmium, copper, zinc and total dissolved solids. The monitoring is to occur upstream and downstream of ash pond outfalls at all three facilities.
  • Liquid coal ash storage structures shall meet the dam design and safety requirements according to the state administrative code.

The permits also require Duke to install groundwater monitoring wells and to comply with groundwater standards, according to information from the state. While the permits require monitoring, the state didn’t go far enough, according to Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman: “It’s disturbing to me that the state is allowing the unlimited release of mercury, selenium and arsenic into our waters." Merryman said he plans to look into the option of appealing the state’s decision on the permits.[8]

Waste Site

Groups report coal waste leaks at Allen and Riverbend

In November 2012 the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation informed state and federal environmental regulators they discovered four seepage points from coal ash ponds, one from Duke's Allen Steam Station into Lake Wylie and three into Mountain Island Lake from Duke's Riverbend Steam Station. Lake Wylie provides drinking water for York County and Belmont, while Mountain Island Lake provides drinking water for Mecklenburg County.[9]

G.G. Allen ranked 65th 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.[10] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[11]

G.G. Allen Steam Plant ranked number 65 on the list, with 439,208 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[10]

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

G.G. Allen's Active Ash Pond surface impoundment is 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.[12]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 January 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Alliant, Duke announce generator shutdowns, accelerating nation's transition to coal-free status". Utility Dive. 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  3. "Duke to close coal-fired generators to settle EPA lawsuit," WRAL, Sep 10, 2015
  4. "Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC 2018 Integrated Resource Plan," Duke Energy, Sep 5, 2018
  5. "Duke Energy outlines early retirement of 5 coal units in NC rate case" spglobal.com, October 1, 2019
  6. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  7. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Sharon McBrayer, "State approves permit for Catawba County coal-fired power station" Hickory Daily Record, Jan. 18, 2011.
  9. John Marks, "Group reports coal ash leaking into Lake Wylie," Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Observer, Nov. 20, 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  11. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  12. Coal waste

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