GOLDSBORO, N.C., Sept. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), will officially close the coal-fired H.F. Lee power plant near Goldsboro, N.C., Sept. 15. This is the second such retirement under the utility's fleet-modernization program, which will help ensure continued grid reliability, reduce the long-term price impact on customers, reduce air emissions and water usage, and offer new economic development opportunities. The Lee Plant has been a vital part of meeting the needs of Progress Energy Carolinas' customers since it began commercial operation in 1951. Located on the Neuse River west of Goldsboro, the plant was one of the first major construction projects in the utility's post-World War II expansion. A second coal-fired unit was added the following year and a third unit added in the 1960s brought the coal plant's total coal generating capacity to 382 megawatts (MW). The site's four oil-fueled combustion turbine units, with a total capacity of 75 MW, will be retired Oct. 1, 2012. "For 61 years, the Lee Plant has served the region with safe, reliable and affordable electricity," said Jeff Lyash, executive vice president of energy supply for Duke Energy. "During these years, hundreds of current and former employees have been closely tied to Wayne County and the region, and the plant's long, productive life has been a testament to their outstanding dedication." In addition to retiring older, small coal plants, the utility's fleet-modernization strategy also includes building new natural gas-fueled combined-cycle units on property between the Lee Plant and the Wayne County Energy Complex. The new, 920-MW natural gas-fueled combined-cycle facility and corresponding natural gas pipeline extension is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2013.