Duke to file in January for approval of Asheville gas-fired project

Duke Energy Progress on Dec. 16 notified the North Carolina Utilities Commission that it plans to file an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to construct the Western Carolinas Modernization Project at its existing Asheville plant site in Buncombe County, North Carolina on or after Jan. 15.

The Western Carolinas Modernization Project consists of two new natural gas-fired 280 MW (winter rating) combined cycle units, with fuel oil back up; and a natural gas-fired 192 MW (winter rating) simple cycle combustion turbine unit, with fuel oil back up. The need for this capacity may be avoided or delayed due to the utilization of other technologies and programs to meet the future peak demand requirements of DEP customers in the region, and future new solar generation at the Asheville plant site, said this Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) subsidiary.

Duke Energy Progress said it is currently in the early stages of exploring these alternative peak load resources and will be working with its customers to maximize their deployment and effectiveness.

The Western Carolinas Modernization Project will enable the early retirement of the 379-MW (winter rating) Asheville 1 and 2 coal units on or before the commercial operation of the new combined cycle units, thereby permanently ceasing operations of all coal-fired units at the site.

“As will be set forth in detail in the Company’s forthcoming CPCN application, the Asheville Combined Cycle units will provide cost-effective baseload generation for DEP’s customers in North Carolina and South Carolina, and are planned for commercial operation in the Fall of 2019,” said the notice. “The contingent Asheville Combustion Turbine unit would provide cost-effective peaking generation for DEP’s North Carolina and South Carolina customers, and would potentially begin commercial operation in 2023 if the current peak demand growth is not sufficiently reduced by the alternative approach discussed above.

“The new solar generation facility will be subject to a future CPCN application once the coal unit demolition plans have been sufficiently completed to determine the site configuration that will enable the optimum amount of new solar generation facility at the Asheville site for the benefit of the Company’s customers in North Carolina and South Carolina.”

Duke Energy announced Nov. 4 that in response to community concerns it will replace its coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one, and also abandon plans for the 230-kV Foothills Transmission Line and Campobello substation. Duke said that the 45-mile transmission line and substation will no longer be necessary under its revised Western Carolinas Modernization Project.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.