Duke Energy preps power plant for heavy usage during winter months

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Duke Energy will perform maintenance on one of its plants to ensure it is ready for the winter months ahead.

The maintenance will require a partial shutdown of the natural gas plant in Goldsboro.

“Whenever you switch that light on, you want electricity to be there and we take that very seriously,” said Swati Daji, senior vice president of Fuels and Optimization for Duke Energy.

The workers at the H.F. Lee Energy Complex explained how it all works, and why it is so important to have these partial shutdowns to take care of equipment.

“We also have some inspections we want to do in general before we get into the winter season so we’re better prepared to run during the extreme weather that’s coming this January and February,” said Rick Grant, station manager of the H.F. Lee Energy Complex.

During this partial shutdown, crews will be working to install 33 massive steam valves.

“Operate at pretty extreme temperatures and pressures, a thousand pounds of pressure, a thousand degree temperatures. So, these valves are doing some very, very important work for us at the plant, and we need them to work well,” said Grant.

They weigh about 10,000 pounds apiece. To do that, Duke Energy crews need some heavy machinery to lift them up about three stories to install them.

“The welding that’s required to install them is pretty intense and these guys have trained for months and years to make sure they’re capable of doing this work safely and efficiently for us,” said Grant.

This isn’t the only work being done ahead of the cold season.

“We basically look at what the load forecast is of how much electricity demand is going to be, and then we look at our stack of plants to see which plants are on. And based on fuel cost we try and figure out what’s a good dispatch,” said Daji.

Gas is becoming a more affordable option, a good thing for the Goldsboro site.

The plant is one of the largest natural gas plants in Duke Energy’s fleets, running about 80 percent of the time. But if gas prices rise, fuel purchasers can choose to fall back on coal or diesel.

“If fuel price goes up or down, we can really switch around to what is cheapest for our customers,” said Daji.

On a normal day the site will have about 55 workers, but to do all this maintenance they have around 250.

They’re working hard to get all the maintenance done for Thanksgiving.

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