Thursday, August 25, 2011

Charlotte's oldest coal plant has its own website

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Duke Energys Riverbend Coal Plant, situated 12 miles from Uptown
  • Rhiannon Fionn
  • Duke Energy's Riverbend Coal Plant, situated 12 miles from Uptown

Duke Energy's Riverbend coal plant is ancient as far as power plants go; it will be 82 years old on Oct. 29. But, it's not just Charlotte's oldest plant, it's one of a very small handful of elderly plants in the country, and a good nine years older than the oldest plant listed on's list of the nation's oldest coal plants.

The plant's new website isn't run by Duke Energy, though. Nope; it's run by Greenpeace. And, according to that site, Riverbend is responsible for 15 deaths, 260 asthma attacks and 22 heart attacks each year, though it's not clear how those numbers were tabulated.

It is true that Riverbend's technology isn't as up-to-date as in younger plants; for instance, there isn't much going on in the way of air quality controls. Day-depending, you can see yellow-ish, black or white acidic-smelling smoke coming out of the plant's smokestacks. It's also true that the smoke from the plant tends to drift eastward, over an across-the-street neighborhood, our drinking water supply (Mountain Island Lake) and toward Uptown.

Depending on what happens regulation-wise, the plant is slated to stop burning coal sometime between 2015 and 2018, though 2011 was given as a closure date in the past. That doesn't necessarily mean the plant will close for good, though; the infrastructure on its property is an important part of the grid. So, even after the company stops burning coal in the plant, it may well be fed different types of fuel, like natural gas or those trees the state decided qualify as "renewable energy".

But, back to Riverbend's new online life: On Greenpeace's website, the community is encouraged to share their stories — whether written, pictorial or videoed. So, have at it ... if you're so inclined.

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