Duke Energy created a new plan for its proposed infrastructure upgrade for the Western Carolinas in response to community feedback.
Under the revised plan, the company will replace its coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one. As a result, the proposed 45-mile Foothills Transmission Line and Campobello substation are no longer necessary.
Western North Carolina is growing faster than most other areas in the Carolinas. To successfully meet the region’s growing electric power needs, the revamped project will require more participation in energy efficiency, demand-side management, renewable energy and developing technologies from the company, communities and customers in the region.
“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process for their input and patience, including those who sent us more than 9,000 comments regarding our proposed transmission line and overall project,” said Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy’s executive vice president for market solutions and president of the Carolinas region. “We believe the process worked.
“We have been committed to developing a plan to maintain the region’s power reliability with the least possible impact on communities, property owners and the environment from the start of this effort, and we believe our revised plans accomplish those goals,” said Yates.
The new plan does require a stepped-up effort to work with customers and interested groups to expand participation in programs to reduce peak power demand and grow renewable energy and associated technologies. It also includes a two-phased approach to reconfigure the Asheville Power Plant site that will provide the same environmental benefits as the original modernization plan.
“While the previous plan was more robust and scaled for the longer-term, the new plan balances the concerns raised by the community and the very real need for more electricity to serve this growing region,” said Yates. “We’re eager to ramp up our efforts in working with the community to reduce power demand across the region through energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy and other technologies to work collectively to avoid building additional genration in the area for as long as possible.”
The reconfigured plan for the Asheville Power Plant site includes:
· Retiring the coal units as scheduled by 2020
· Building two highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle 280 MW units on the site, with the option for a simple-cycle 190 MW unit in 2023 or later, depending on the success of the company and community’s efforts to reduce daily and peak power demand
· New units that will be designed to operate with a dual fuel source so oil can serve as emergency backup in the event of an interruption of the natural gas supply
· Plans for a utility-scale solar power plant on the site
· Rebuilding existing transmission lines and related substation upgrades using existing transmission rights-of-way to increase Duke Energy Progress’ ability to continue importing enough power into the Asheville region to serve the region’s growing power demand and meet federal power reliability standards