Duke plans to retire Asheville coal plant, replace with natural gas

Duke Energy Progress announced plans May 19, 2015 to shutter and eventually demolish its 51-year-old, coal-fired plant at Lake Julian, opting instead to rely on natural gas to meet a growing demand for electricity.

If granted state approval, the natural gas facility could be online by 2020 and would be built on Duke property near the existing plant. That facility currently is able to produce 376 megawatts of power. The new plant could generate 650 megawatts.

Solar arrays also would be added to the site and would sit over land now home to coal ash ponds once those areas are properly remediated, Duke officials said.

The solar capacity will be determined when officials can calculate how much flat land is available.

The project carries an estimated $1.1 billion cost, with $750 million going toward the new plant and solar arrays and $320 million to a transmission substation and related infrastructure in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

A new 40-mile transmission line would connect the natural gas plant to that substation, converting high-voltage energy to low-voltage energy.

The company will not be asking for economic incentives or tax breaks, said Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy executive vice president of market solutions and president of the Carolinas region.

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