TURNED ON: Duke Energy’s downtown distribution substation, located behind the U.S. Cellular Center on Rankin Avenue, was built in the mid-1960s. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Sparks fly: city struggles to locate, regulate new electrical substation­s

To meet growing power demand, Duke Energy says it will need to build three new electrical substations close to downtown over the next ten years. The city is rushing to put an ordinance establishing requirements for substation screening in place while residents are banding together to oppose substations in their neighborhoods.

PIPE DREAMS: Natural gas fuels a third of the nation’s electricity generation and heats half of America’s homes. Natural gas supplier Williams would like to see those numbers climb even higher. Historically low gas prices driven by shale gas production through hydraulic fracturing are behind thousands of miles of new gas pipeline projects. Photo courtesy of Williams

Duke Energy’s planned power plant tied to fracking

Natural gas will dethrone coal as the fossil fuel generating most of WNC’s electricity when Duke Energy’s new Lake Julian plant goes online in 2020. But how does natural gas get to this area, and where does it come from? Though tracing the gas molecules to their source is tricky, Xpress found that much of the area’s gas supply comes from hydraulic fracturing, and new pipeline projects are in the works to bring more fracked gas into the region.

POWER PLAYERS: Recent travel companions Brownie Newman (l), Buncombe County Board of Commissioners; Julie Mayfield, Asheville City Council; and Jason Walls (r), Duke Energy represent the three convenors of the Energy Innovation Task Force. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Energy task force holds first meeting

The new Energy Innovation Task Force — which brings together representatives from electric utility Duke Energy, elected officials, the private sector, nonprofits and alternative energy providers — held its first meeting on May 13. In addition to the task force members, a sizable group of citizens and energy advocates also turned out for the public kickoff of the one-of-a-kind initiative, which aims to slow the growth of local energy demand and avoid the construction of a third natural gas generator.

Love is Unstoppable protesters prepare visuals for tomorrow's demonstrations at the Beloved Community House in downtown Asheville. Photo courtesy of Showing Up for Racial Justice

Protest planned for Gov. McCrory’s western residence open house

Despite some economic gains the state has made since he took office as North Carolina’s governor in 2013, Pat McCrory isn’t a popular guy with those on the left. In conjunction with McCrory’s planned Governor’s Western Residence open house on Saturday, May 14, a broad spectrum of social and environmental advocacy groups plan to protest legislation McCrory has signed. […]

A landmark corner distinguishes the main entry into the Phase 1 development from Biltmore Avenue. Image: David Baker Architects

City Council commits $4.2 million to redevelopm­ent of Lee Walker Heights

At its April 26 meeting, City Council approved a rezoning request and committed $4.2 million in city funds to allow the Lee Walker Heights redevelopment project to move forward. Council also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Duke Energy which gives the city the option to purchase the former Matthews Ford property adjacent to Lee Walker Heights at any time over the next eight years.

November's election will feature Republican Robert Pressley and Democrat David King running for a two-year term on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. The seat was vacated by Miranda DeBruhl in May.

Buncombe County commission­ers spar over perceived transparen­cy issue

Another issue that put the commissioners’ divide on display was a resolution concerning the creation of a Utility Energy Innovation Task Force. The venture is a partnership with Duke Energy and the City of Asheville aimed at, “working to delay or avoid the construction of an additional fossil fuel powered combustion turbine electricity generating facility at the Asheville Plant site in 2023.”

State Utilities Commissioners James Patterson (l) and Bryan Beatty question Duke Energy counsel Bo Somers during state Utilities Commission hearings Monday. Kirk Ross/Carolina Public Press

Duke Energy threatens to stick with coal at Asheville plant if commission rejects plans

After a Monday, Feb. 22 hearing disrupted several times by protests, the chair of the state Utilities Commission said he expects to meet a legislative deadline for a decision on Duke Energy-Progress’ conversion of its Asheville facility. Duke warned that it may not phase out its coal-fired units at the site if its petition is denied.

Leadership Asheville hosted a capacity crowd at its panel discussion on WNC's future energy needs on Feb. 3.

Reducing peak energy demand key to size of future Duke plant

Peak energy demand will determine the capacity of Duke Energy’s planned upgrades at the company’s Lake Julian power plant, according to speakers at a panel discussion on WNC’s future energy needs on Feb. 3. Speakers stressed the importance of partnerships between Duke Energy, local government and community partners to reduce demand and delay or eliminate a third new natural gas-fired generation unit planned for the Lake Julian site.