Powering the Carolinas

Artist rendering of the Asheville plant

Duke Energy Progress has committed $1.4 billion in the Asheville region to provide energy the way customers want it – cleaner, smarter and more renewable.

Though new natural gas and renewable energy assets are geographically located in this region, energy is fed to the grid, benefiting customers in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Cleaner. Duke Energy invested $817 million to build the new Asheville Combined Cycle Station. The company also shut down two coal-fired units at the site in January 2020 and continues to close coal ash basins. 

Smarter. More than $175 million is allocated to upgrade power lines, substations and other systems that move energy from power plants to customers. Investments in technology will also improve security and enable the system to automatically send an alert or fix itself. Hardening the system will make it more resilient, and moving some power lines underground will reduce outages.

More renewable. Duke Energy is investing $120 million in renewables in the region, including building a 9- to 10-megawatt solar plant and 17- to 18-megawatt battery storage facility at the existing Asheville station; connecting a 9-megawatt lithium-ion battery system to Duke Energy's Rock Hill substation in the city of Asheville; and building a microgrid in Hot Springs, including a 2-megawatt solar plant and 4-megawatt lithium battery storage facility.

Investments in cleaner natural gas power plants and renewables will allow Duke Energy to retire coal plants faster and help the company achieve its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by half by 2030.

Duke Energy's new Asheville Combined Cycle Station in Arden, N.C., is operational and capable of producing 560 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient energy to serve customers in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The new station generates enough energy to serve about 450,000 homes.
The company also shut down two 1960s-era coal-fired units at the Asheville site in January 2020, and demolition is expected to be finished in 2023.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the new natural gas plant in February 2016 as part of the Western Carolinas Modernization Plan, and construction started in November 2017. 


The Asheville Combined Cycle Station is a state-of-the-art, highly efficient and environmentally responsible facility with two power blocks, four generators and more than 18,000 components.

  • State-of-the-art: The combustion turbine generators offer the latest technology with a proven performance.
  • Highly efficient: The new Asheville station is Duke Energy's most efficient in the Carolinas and operates about 75% more efficiently than the coal plant it replaced. Customers benefit from this efficiency through lower power plant fuel costs. The station also features a heat recovery system that captures and then reuses heat from the hot exhaust gases to make more energy. 
  • Environmentally responsible: The station uses cleaner natural gas, replaces two 1960s-era coal-fired units and significantly reduces air emissions.

The station also has two design features that give Duke Energy operators more flexibility to ensure reliability and meet customer demand.

First, the station is designed with bypass stacks, allowing the combustion turbine to continue producing energy when the heat recovery steam generator or steam turbine generator is offline for maintenance. Secondly, if natural gas becomes unavailable, the station can burn diesel fuel.

About 30 employees operate and maintain the plant, and most of these employees previously worked at the now-retired coal plant.

Learn more about how the station works.


Environmental benefits

The Asheville Combined Cycle Station is Duke Energy's most efficient in the Carolinas – and 75% more efficient than the now-retired coal plant it replaced.

Duke Energy customers benefit dollar for dollar from this efficiency through lower power plant fuel costs.

Because natural gas burns cleaner than coal, carbon dioxide emissions at the site have dropped by about 60% per megawatt-hour in comparison to the now-retired coal plant. Sulfur dioxide is expected to decrease by 99% and nitrogen oxides by 40%. Mercury has also been eliminated. 

Economic benefits

Construction and related activities provided significant economic benefits: 1,300 construction jobs; $128 million in work to suppliers of goods and services in the Carolinas, Midwest and Florida; and $17 million in work for businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.

The project also generated $1.7 million in new property taxes for Buncombe County, making Duke Energy Progress' 2019 total property tax bill $4.4 million (paid in 2020).

Community giving 

For more than 100 years, Duke Energy employees have donated their time and money to give back to the communities and neighborhoods where they live and work.

Annually, Duke Energy donates nearly $30 million to charitable causes in the Carolinas, and employees and retirees contribute an additional $7.6 million by making financial contributions to nonprofits and volunteering their time.

In Buncombe County, Asheville project teams helped build houses for underprivileged families; spearheaded food, clothing, school supplies and blood drives; and collected toys and money to help children during the holidays.

Since 2013, Duke Energy Progress has also contributed $4.7 million to Buncombe County through Duke Energy Foundation grants and community sponsorships. 

Blue Horizons Project

In 2016, leaders from the city of Asheville, Buncombe County and Duke Energy formed the Energy Innovation Task Force to develop energy efficiency and conservation strategies to help customers better manage and reduce their energy usage, especially during peak times.

The goal was to avoid or delay construction of a planned combustion turbine generator at the Asheville site and help transition Duke Energy Progress to a cleaner and smarter energy future.

Since forming, During Energy has contributed $850,000 to support the task force's mission.

In 2019, the task force redefined its goals and became the Blue Horizons Project Community Council.

The council's new purpose is to drive behavior and investments that help the community achieve its aggressive renewable energy goals. 


@ Sign up for email