Looking to balance its current power portfolio while adding generation to meet increased customer demand, Duke Energy subsidiary Duke Energy Carolinas filed an application with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) seeking approval to construct and operate a 750 MW natural gas-fired combined cycle plant at the existing Lee Steam Station in Anderson County, SC.
Thursday's filing was in partnership with North Carolina Electric Membership Corp., which would be a minority owner of 100 MW of the project if constructed. Though no final decision to build at Lee has been made, Duke Energy Carolinas said it is "prudent" to continue with the regulatory actions necessary to keep the project moving forward.
"The energy needs of our customers are significant over the next 15 years," said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy state president -- South Carolina. "Our commitment is to meet our customers' needs in a way that balances affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity, and this project will help us satisfy that need."
The request is part of a comprehensive, long-term plan to add new generation, modernize the fleet, maintain a diverse fuel portfolio, and manage customer costs while delivering a reliable power supply. The utility noted that gas-fired combined cycle plants are a good match to meet needed base and intermediate load demands because of their high efficiency and flexibility.
The proposed project would represent a substantial long-term investment by Duke Energy Carolinas in the Lee Steam Station site and surrounding community, adding about 500 jobs during the height of construction.
"The Lee site is a great location for a combined cycle plant," Gillespy said. "Duke Energy will be able to leverage existing site infrastructure to minimize new generation project costs and impacts to the community and environment."
Duke Energy Carolinas said construction could begin after the company receives the necessary regulatory approvals, with commercial operation as early as June 2017.