New natural gas plant begins operations in Anderson

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Duke Energy has begun operations at its new 750-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant at the W.S. Lee Station in Anderson County.

The plant, which began serving customers on April 5, is part of the company’s “balanced approach” to modernizing the fleet, maintaining a diverse fuel portfolio, managing costs, and providing reliable clean energy, according to a news release.

Construction of the $700 million plant started in March 2015.

“Investing in a smarter, more efficient energy future through projects like the new W.S. Lee plant is more than just good business — it’s an investment in our state that helps attract jobs and industry and make our economy and communities stronger,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president.

The W.S. Lee project has benefited more than 150 companies locally, in South Carolina, across the U.S., and around the world, according to the release. During the height of construction, the project created more than 600 temporary construction jobs and provided about $12 million in work to local subcontractors.

The new combined-cycle unit at W.S. Lee Station is also expected to generate about $4.4 million in tax revenue in 2019 for Anderson County.

The North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. owns 100 megawatts of the new plant’s energy capacity, according to the release. It receives natural gas through a dedicated pipeline that branches off the transcontinental mainline.

Texas-based Fluor Corp., which has offices in Greenville, oversaw the construction of the plant and installed the plant’s pipeline and associated metering and compression equipment on existing Duke Energy Carolinas and Piedmont Natural Gas rights of way.

In all, crews poured about 23,000 cubic yards of concrete, placed 436 miles of cable and wire, and installed 29 miles of underground pipe and conduit.

The W.S. Lee Station, in addition to the new combined-cycle natural gas plant, has a 180MW natural gas boiler and two dual-fuel 42MW simple-cycle units.

Duke Energy closed two coal-fired units at the W.S. Lee Station in 2014 and converted a third coal unit to natural gas in 2015, according to a news release. The company no longer operates any plants in South Carolina that use coal as fuel.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the United States. It owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas, renewables, and hydroelectric generation, according to the release.

The company currently provides about 19,700 megawatts of owned electric capacity to about 2.5 million customers across North Carolina and South Carolina.

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