This morning, Duke Energy announced plans to close the 414 MW Asheville coal-fired generating plant citing the high cost of continuing to operate the facility. The 44 year old coal plant, targeted by environmental organizations for retirement, will be replaced with a new 650 MW natural gas plant and a solar farm of unknown size.
In response to today’s announcement, Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, made this statement:
“We applaud Duke Energy for doing the right thing for its customers, public health, and the environment by closing this facility and moving toward cleaner solutions. Ceasing to burn coal at this plant, in combination with the planned clean-up of the plant’s coal ash storage ponds under the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, will dramatically lower the risks this plant’s toxic coal ash poses to the river and reduce air pollution.
“Duke rightfully points out in its announcement that burning coal at the Asheville plant was more expensive than other options, which is often the case in today’s Southeastern energy market. We look forward to working with Duke to maximize the alternatives to coal, which should include significant commitments to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
“While Duke’s announcement did not specify the size of the solar farm, we remain hopeful it will be a truly substantial investment in solar. As other utilities have demonstrated, solar power can be effectively used to reduce the amount of natural gas burned during daylight hours.”