Duke announces that Asheville Combined Cycle Station is producing cleaner energy

Press release from Duke Energy:

Duke Energy Progress customers in North Carolina and South Carolina are receiving 560 megawatts of cleaner energy from the company’s new state-of-the-art Asheville Combined Cycle Station in Arden, N.C.

The new station generates enough energy to serve about 450,000 homes.

The $817 million station includes two electricity-producing power blocks with four generators and more than 18,000 components. The first 280-megawatt power block came online in December 2019, and the second 280-megawatt power block became fully operational in April 2020.

As part of the project, Duke Energy shut down a 1960s-era coal-fired power plant at the Asheville site in January 2020. Demolition of the coal plant is underway, with completion expected in 2023.

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

Customers in North Carolina and South Carolina benefit dollar for dollar from this efficiency through lower power plant fuel costs.

“Customers want cleaner, more reliable energy, and we’re committed to delivering on this expectation,” said Kevin Murray, vice president of project management and construction. “By building the new Asheville station, we’re significantly reducing air emissions – including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – and continuing to move toward our companywide goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2030.”

Because natural gas burns more cleanly 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).

Investments in renewables and grid improvements

In addition to building the Asheville Combined Cycle Station, the company is investing more than $175 million in western North Carolina to upgrade power lines, electrical substations and other equipment and systems that move energy from power plants to customers.

The company is also investing $120 million in renewable energy in the region, including:

  • Building a 9- to 10-megawatt solar plant and 17- to 18-megawatt battery storage facility at the Asheville station, after the retired coal plant is demolished
  • Connecting a 9-megawatt lithium-ion battery facility to the company’s Rock Hill substation in the city of Asheville
  • Constructing a microgrid that includes a 2-megawatt solar plant and a 4-megawatt lithium-ion battery storage facility in Hot Springs

Community giving and involvement

For more than 50 years, the Asheville site has helped fuel a strong economy in the region, and employees have donated their time and money to give back to the communities where they live and work.

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.

Asheville Combined Cycle Station

The Asheville Combined Cycle Station is a state-of-the-art, efficient and environmentally responsible facility.

The station uses cleaner natural gas, replaces a 1960s-era coal plant and significantly reduces air emissions. The station’s four generators offer the latest technology with a proven performance. A heat recovery system captures and then reuses heat from the hot exhaust gases to make more energy, making it efficient.

Two design features also 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 generator to continue producing energy when the heat recovery steam generator or steam turbine generator needs maintenance. Second, if natural gas becomes unavailable, the station can burn diesel fuel.

Click learn how the station works for more details.

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

More information about the station can be found at duke-energy.com/AshevilleCC.

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