Duke Energy eyes 750-MW gas plant in South Carolina

A Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) subsidiary has filed an application to build a 750-MW combined-cycle natural gas power plant in Anderson County, S.C.

Duke Energy Carolinas said Oct. 25 that it has filed an application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity (CECPCN) with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) seeking approval for the new plant that would be built at the existing Lee power station.

“It’s a perfect site if we choose to build,” a Duke spokesperson said early Oct. 25. Because the planning is in the early stages, Duke is not announcing an estimated cost at this point, the spokesperson said.

The news is not a big surprise given that Duke has previously announced plans to retire coal capacity at the Lee station and build new natural gas generation there. While Duke, in recent years, has built new coal plants in Indiana and North Carolina, it has primarily been moving more overall from coal-to-gas.

In Florida, Duke is also looking for new natural gas generation to make up for the retirement of the Crystal River 3 nuclear unit.

North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) will be a minority owner of 100 MW of the Lee project if constructed.

No final decision has been made on whether to build the plant although Duke wants to keep this option open, Duke indicated in an Oct. 25 statement. Duke said the project would add about 500 jobs during the height of construction.

In it’s application, Duke outlines the potential need for the plant.

Duke Energy’s existing resources will be reduced by 370 MWs in 2015 with the retirement of’ Lee Steam Station Units 1 through 3, and the company’s load obligation (including reserve margin) is expected to increase from 2 1,216 MWs to 22,265 MWs, which takes into consideration the planned addition of’ 271 MWs of incremental energy efficiency by 2017.

By 201 7, without the addition of the Lee Combined Cycle Project, Duke Energy Carolinas is expected to need 317 MWs to meet its minimum target  planning reserve margin of 14.5%, Duke said in its application.

Duke has already announced plans for the Lee combined-cycle plant application in several local South Carolina newspapers.

Duke said in its 260-page application that, as part of its resource planning, it has looked at various scenarios involving natural gas prices and potential imposition of government carbon dioxide rules.

Duke Energy Carolinas official Janice Hager said in PSC testimony that the company looked at bidders representing “a wide variety of resources including both existing and new build combined cycles” before deciding to go with the current option.

In the application, Duke Energy officials indicated the company is interested in using Siemens technology with a “2X1F” configuration similar to what the company has used at its Buck and Dan River combined-cycle plants.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.