- The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved an expansion proposed at Duke Energy's 1,200-MW Lincoln Combustion Turbine plant, issuing an order to begin construction despite risks associated with the new turbine technology and lengthy development time.
- Constructed by Siemens Energy, the new generating unit would be the most efficient combustion turbine in the Duke Energy fleet, and would be about 25% more efficient than the existing Lincoln plant turbines.
- According to the Charlotte Business Journal, construction will begin next summer and then following several years of testing, the new unit will begin commercial operation in 2024.
North Carolina regulators have signed off on an innovative project Duke has proposed with Siemens to install a new brand of generating unit at the Lincoln plant.
The companies say it would be the most efficient combustion turbine in the Duke Energy fleet, and would be manufactured at Siemens' Charlotte energy hub. Four years of testing is anticipated after construction, before commercial operation begins. During the testing, Duke Energy customers would receive energy at just the cost of the fuel.
Regulators cited "the overwhelming and known benefits to customers from the project" in approving the 402-MW unit.
"The load following capability of the Lincoln CT Project will provide additional system flexibility and generation ancillary service benefits to help accommodate the impacts resulting from the increasing amounts of intermittent renewable resources being added to the Duke Energy Carolinas system," the PSC concluded. "The advanced-class simple cycle CT technology proposed by Duke Energy Carolinas for the Lincoln CT Project is a practical technological option to provide peaking generation capacity by 2024, when it is needed."
The Lincoln site now houses 16 gas-fueled, simple-cycle combustion turbines capable of generating 1,200 MW during short periods of peak demand.
Earlier this year, in April, Duke announced its Power/Forward Carolinas initiative aimed at modernizing and hardening the North Carolina electric grid while generating 14,000 new jobs and more than $1 billion in tax revenues over 10 years. Investments include almost $5 billion to bury certain power lines, $2.2 billion on transmission upgrades and $3.5 billion on distribution level hardening, including retrofitting 400,000 transformers.