Today the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hear comments on Duke Energy Progress’ application for approval to build a massive, $1.1 billion gas-fired power plant in Asheville. SELC is representing MountainTrue and Sierra Club in the proceedings and will present comments during today’s meeting.
The Asheville project would replace a coal-fired plant soon to be retired under pressure from SELC and its partners. While the current iteration of the natural gas-fired replacement is an improvement over the original plan, which included unneeded transmission lines and a South Carolina substation, there are still fundamental concerns with the current version. The proposal in question calls for two primary, 280 MW units and a third, back-up unit to be built later.
Expert analysis submitted by SELC shows much lower energy demand in the future than projected by Duke. Based on those more realistic projections, we are asking the Commission to send Duke back to the drawing board to prove real need for the project and analyze renewable alternatives or, at the very least, to limit the size of the plant or require additional coal plant closures to offset the new gas facility.
We also are seeking enforcement of the commitment by Duke to invest in 15 megawatts of solar and 5 megawatts of energy storage. Increased investment in renewables and energy efficiency would go a long way toward reducing future energy demand.
The Commission must make a decision on Duke’s application by February 29.