Asheville Combined-Cycle Natural Gas Plant Project

Powering the Carolinas

Artist rendering of the Asheville plant

Duke Energy Progress has committed about $2 billion in the Asheville region to provide energy the way customers want it – cleaner, smarter, stronger and more renewable. Though new natural gas and renewable energy assets are geographically located in this region, energy is fed to the grid, which benefits customers in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

  • Cleaner. Duke Energy will shut down two coal-fired units at the existing Asheville Plant, close coal ash basins and invest in a new combined-cycle natural gas plant. The new plant will operate about 75 percent more efficiently than the existing coal units – lowering fuel costs on customers’ bills and reducing environmental emissions. 

  • Smarter. The company is investing in technology. When the power goes out, the system will send an alert and often automatically fix itself.  

  • Stronger. Duke Energy is upgrading and expanding the energy grid – the wires, transformers and systems that move energy from the power plant to homes and businesses. Crews are hardening the system to make it more resilient, improving the system’s security and moving some lines underground to reduce outages.    

  • More renewable. Duke Energy will harness the sun by building solar facilities and investing in large utility-scale battery storage systems.

Duke Energy’s new 560-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant at the Asheville site paves a new path for cleaner and smarter energy for Duke Energy Progress’ customers in the Carolinas. 

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the project in February 2016, and active construction started in November 2017. 

The existing coal-fired units will retire no later than January 2020 after the new plant starts serving customers in late 2019.

Duke Energy is investing in new generation and conservation programs in the Asheville region to accommodate burgeoning growth in the area and meet customers’ demand. 

Building highly efficient natural gas plants is also part of Duke Energy’s balanced approach to providing customers reliable and increasingly clean energy. 

The new plant will have two power blocks featuring highly reliable and proven technology. Each power block, called a 1-on-1, will have one combustion turbine on one steam generator. 

Duke Energy started receiving natural gas from PSNC Energy after the pipeline and facility were constructed, which facilitated startup testing for the plant.

Environmental benefits

Because of its efficiency, the new combined-cycle natural gas plant will operate about 75 percent more efficiently than the exiting coal units. Customers benefit dollar-for dollar from this efficiency through lower fuel costs (adjusted annually on a customer's bill). 

The new plant will have significantly lower environmental impacts than the existing coal-fired units. 
  • Sulfur dioxide will be reduced by an estimated 99 percent.
  • Nitrogen oxide will be reduced by an estimated 40 percent. 
  • Mercury will be eliminated. 
  • Water withdrawals from Lake Julian will be reduced by an estimated 97 percent.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by about 60 percent (per-megawatt-hour) due to the efficiency of the new natural gas plant and because natural gas burns more cleanly than coal.

Economic benefits

Construction and related activities have significantly benefited the local economy by creating nearly 1,300 temporary construction jobs during the height of construction. Once complete, about 40 workers will be needed to operate and maintain the plant.

Property taxes from the new plant are also estimated to increase 30-35 percent. 

Being a good corporate neighbor and contributing to the vitality of the local community are important to Duke Energy.

To every extent possible, the project team has worked to proactively identify and minimize inconveniences to plant neighbors.

Duke Energy is also committed to helping customers better manage and reduce their overall energy usage, especially during times of peak demand.

Duke Energy Progress, Buncombe County and the city of Asheville formed the Energy Innovation Task Force to develop a long-term plan to work with customers, communities and other stakeholders to place more emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation and better leverage existing programs.

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