Press Release | October 8, 2015

Duke Energy Halts Proposal for Controversial Carolinas Transmission Line

Asheville, N.C.—Conservation groups are applauding today’s announcement that Duke Energy is reconsidering plans for the Western Carolinas Modernization Project, a strongly contested proposal to build a large new gas plant in Asheville, North Carolina, and a massive new transmission line in scenic areas along the western border between North Carolina and South Carolina.

Under pressure from conservation groups, Duke Energy recently announced plans to retire its outdated coal-fired power plant in Asheville. Despite calls to move towards renewable energy, the company proposed instead to replace the coal plant with a much larger natural gas power plant, doubling its generating capacity. From there Duke Energy proposed to construct 40 miles of transmission lines across the mountains to a new substation in South Carolina.

Thousands of citizens have turned out at public hearings over the summer and several North Carolina and South Carolina communities—including Mills River, Hendersonville, and Greenville, Henderson, Polk, and Spartanburg counties—have passed resolutions opposing the project.

Duke announced today the utility would hit pause on its plans for at least a month as it weighs the over 9,000 public comments submitted opposing the proposal. 

SELC and many other community and conservation groups applauded the move.

“Today the voices of thousands of people and organizations across the Carolinas have forced Duke Energy to change course on this misguided proposal, which would have deeply and permanently scarred South Carolina's beautiful Blue Ridge and Piedmont foothills,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This would not have happened without the thousands citizens and many organizations that made clear our states do not need a massive new 45-mile long power line, a huge new substation, and an expensive oversized gas plant. We hope Duke Energy will use the next month to come up with a modern and affordable alternative as a Thanksgiving gift for the Carolinas.”

“Stepping back from this disastrous transmission line is the right move for the environment and mountain communities,” said DJ Gerken, managing attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center’s Asheville office. “Duke Energy has heard the public outcry – now it’s time to turn that outcry into opportunity by powering western North Carolina with clean, renewable energy instead of an overbuilt gas plant.”

Map showing the proposed route

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About the Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of about 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Press Contacts

DJ Gerken

Incoming President and Executive Director

Phone: 828-258-2023

Frank Holleman

Senior Attorney with a focus on litigation

Phone: 919-967-1450