Duke Energy is moving ahead with a $200 million three-year program in North Carolina that calls for converting four coal-fired units to burn natural gas, Bloomberg reported this week.
In an earnings call with analysts and reporters, Duke CEO Lynn Good last week said a $150 million investment at its Belews Creek coal-fired plant would convert units to burn a 50-50 mix of coal and gas.
Duke is also working to convert two units at its Cliffside coal-fired plant, including switching one to 100% gas and another to about 40%. Charlotte Business Journal reported last year that the Cliffside conversions should be complete in 2019.
Duke Energy is working to clean up its generation through a mix of new gas-fired generation, conversion of coal plants and the addition of advanced energy projects. All told, the company is working on several projects which aim to improve energy supply and reduce emissions across the Carolinas.
During a conference call with analysts last week, Good said the company has plans for 13 MW of batteries as part of the company's Western Carolinas Modernization Project. And she said the company is also moving forward with a dual-fuel project at its Belews Creek coal-fired plant, with a combined investment of over $150 million between Duke Energy Carolinas and Piedmont.
"This upgrade will enable 50% natural gas co-firing on two units at the site increasing fuel flexibility and lowering carbon emissions," Good said. Piedmont has filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission for permission to build gas infrastructure to supply the plant, she added, and the project is expected to be completed in two phases”: in 2019 and 2020.
Dukes W.S. Lee and Western Carolinas combined cycle natural gas plants are "progressing well, and these projects remain on time and on budget," Good added.
Construction on the W.S. Lee project began in 2015 in South Carolina, and Duke anticipates bringing the 750 MW gas-fired unit online later next year. The Western Carolinas Modernization Project includes construction of a pair of 280 MW combined-cycle gas units at the existing Asheville Plant. That project will cost about $1 billion, and the new units will replace an existing 376-MW coal-fired unit staled for retirement by 2020.