By Chris Wack
Duke Energy Corp. said its Progress customers in North Carolina and South Carolina are now receiving 560 megawatts of cleaner energy from its new state-of-the-art Asheville Combined Cycle Station in Arden, N.C.
The energy provider said 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. As part of the project, Duke Energy shut down a 1960s-era coal-fired power plant at the Asheville site in January. Demolition of the coal plant is underway, with completion expected in 2023.
Duke said the Asheville Combined Cycle Station is its most-efficient plant in the Carolinas, and 75% more efficient than the retired coal plant it replaced. Because natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, carbon dioxide emissions at the site have dropped by about 60% per megawatt-hour in comparison with the now-retired coal plant. Sulfur dioxide is expected to decrease by 99% and nitrogen oxides by 40%.
Duke Energy said construction and related activities provided 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.
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.
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