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.