The demolition process will last several months and be followed by the implosion of the powerhouse and chimneys, Duke said.
By year’s end, Duke will have retired units at nine coal-fired generation sites in the Carolinas.
The utility said the long-term vision for sites with retired coal units across its system was to return them safely to “ground level” using a method known as decommissioning and demolition.
This multi-year process involves cleaning and removing equipment, demolishing the buildings and powerhouse, and restoring the site.
Duke’s coal plant decommissioning program involves six steps from demolition to ash basin closure.
The HF Lee plant is about to see the third stage of the process, demolition, followed by implosion and restoration stages.
Changes at the site will be less noticeable initally, but during the final stages of the demolition process, people may notice the removal of larger structures from the site.
Neighbors can expect increased construction traffic in 2014 and the demolition contractor may use the rail system to move some material off site.
"By retiring the older, less-efficient coal units, we have the opportunity to modernise our generation fleet to better serve our customers," said Millie Chalk, Duke Energy district manager.
"The retired units served our region reliably and affordably for many years, and the new advanced, cleaner energy source will help ensure electricity remains as dependable as ever, while reducing environmental impacts."
As it prepares to close ash basins at retired plant sites, Duke says it is evaluating multiple, site-specific closure options to ensure high water-quality protection while balancing the many interests of customers. It will continue to update the community as the process advances.
The 382 megawatt HF Lee plant in Wayne County was retired in September last year.