- Duke Energy Progress will shutter the 376 MW Asheville coal plant and build a 650 MW combined cycle natural gas plant, a solar array, a substation, and a 40 mile, 230 kV transmission line at the site. The cost will be $1.1 billion, with $750 million for the plant.
- The expenditure will save the cost of retrofitting the Asheville plant, built in 1964, to meet new emissions regulations, and the cost of building new dry storage coal ash containment. Duke will update the coal ash dry storage at the 820 MW Cliffside plant — built in 2013 — because that newer facility retrofit will cost less.
- Previous plans for two new natural gas peaker turbines will be dropped. The expenditures are expected to result in a rate increase in 2019, when the new gas plant goes online.
The plant closure and new builds follow the imposition of new state coal ash regulations adopted after the 2014 Dan River coal ash disaster.
The combined cycle gas facility will cost 35% less to operate than the coal plant, according to Duke. Cost savings are expected to come from (1) lower natural gas prices, (2) the elimination of the cost of pollution retrofits, (3) the replacement of a “must-run” coal plant with a gas facility capable of ramping up and down with demand, and (4) the combined cycle facility’s capability to capture and re-use waste heat.
It will allow Duke to take advantage a new natural gas pipeline being built into the area to serve Duke’s two 130 MW natural gas peakers at the site.
The increased capacity at the site will help to service the 400 MW increase in peak demand since the coal plant was built and the 15% increase projected over the coming ten years.