Progress Energy will consider converting some coal-burning power plants to cleaner natural gas under a proposal approved unanimously by the state Senate today.
Raleigh-based Progress is looking at potentially switching nearly a third of its coal-burning plants in the state to natural gas, including the Cape Fear plant in Chatham County.
Winning regulatory approval for a natural gas plant from the N.C. Utilities Commission would normally require at least six months. The lengthy process might not have left Progress enough time to build a natural gas plant by Jan. 1, 2013, when tighter air emissions rules take effect. Converting to natural gas would require installing hundreds of miles of pipeline in the state.