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W.S. Lee Station

Image of the WS Lee combined cycle generating station

Duke Energy's new 750-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant at the W.S. Lee Station in Anderson County, S.C., began serving customers on April 5, 2018. The energy generated from this plant will benefit 2.5 million customers in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Duke Energy also operates a 180-megawatt natural gas boiler and two dual-fuel 42-megawatt simple-cycle units at the station. 

Building highly efficient natural gas plants is part of Duke Energy’s balanced approach to modernizing the fleet, maintaining a diverse fuel portfolio, managing costs and providing reliable and increasingly clean energy to meet customers' needs. 

The project represents a $700 million investment in the W.S. Lee Station, environment and surrounding communities. 

The unit receives natural gas through a new dedicated pipeline that branches off the transcontinental mainline. Crews installed the new 1-mile pipeline and associated metering and compression equipment on existing Duke Energy Carolinas and Piedmont Natural Gas rights of way. 

The Public Service Commission of South Carolina approved the project in 2014, and construction of the new plant started in March 2015. The North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. owns 100 megawatts of the unit’s energy capacity.

The station is named after William States Lee (1872-1934), a distinguished chief engineer of Catawba Power Company, Southern Power Company and Duke Power Company. 

Environmental benefits 

Combined-cycle natural gas units generate energy more efficiently and release significantly lower emissions than coal-fired units. For example, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other emissions are expected to drop by 87 percent overall in comparison to the station’s previous coal-fired operation.

Duke Energy closed two coal-fired units at the W.S. Lee Station in 2014 and converted a third coal unit to natural gas in 2015.
Though Duke Energy no longer operates any coal-fired plants in South Carolina, the company continues to manage two coal ash basins, an inactive basin from the 1950s, a structural fill and an ash fill area at the site.

Economic benefits

The W.S. Lee project has benefited more than 150 companies locally, in South Carolina, across the U.S. and around the world.

During the height of construction, the project created more than 600 temporary construction jobs and provided about $12 million in work to local subcontractors.

For more about how the project benefited the local community, watch this short video: Power plant = jobs for South Carolina county

Community commitment

Since 1951, Duke Energy’s W.S. Lee Station has helped power the economic growth in Anderson County and the surrounding communities of Belton, Williamston, Pelzer and West Pelzer.

That local commitment to the region continues through community involvement by the site’s 45 employees who take pride in giving back to the towns and neighborhoods where they live.

Since 2016, the company and its employees have contributed $425,724 to local communities near the station through Duke Energy Foundation grants and event sponsorships. Duke Energy employees have also volunteered 1,705 hours serving local nonprofit organizations.

The new combined-cycle plant is expected to generate about $4.4 million in tax revenue in 2019 for Anderson County.