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Commissioners endorse Duke Energy plan

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Monday endorsed Duke Energy's plans to build a power plant capable of generating up to 750 megawatts of electricity to replace its Lake Julian coal plant, saying supplying energy was important for the region's future.

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Commissioners “fully and wholeheartedly support Duke Energy in its effort to construct a 752 Megawatt Natural Gas Fueled Electric Generator facility … and respectfully endorse” the approval of the project by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the resolution said.
Duke Energy has formally notified the Utilities Commission that it will file an application to replace the coal-fired plant with two 280-megawatt natural gas-fired units and potentially a 190-megawatt unit to supply peak demand backup. Duke officials say the backup unit may be unnecessary if conservation efforts among cities, industry and residential ratepayers reduce demand.
Henderson County's endorsement came after environmental organizations announced their intention to challenge the need for the backup unit.
“We want Duke to be all in on seeking alternatives to the third unit instead of building in a back door, and we are asking them to send a clear message that they are fully committed to finding cleaner, sustainable alternatives by removing the peaking unit from their filing to the utilities commission,” Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue, said last week.

The resolution commissioners adopted notes that Duke’s revised Western Carolina Modernization Project eliminated the 42-mile foothills transmission line linking the power plant and the South Carolina Upstate, saving the area from a “negative impact.” The local economy and “indeed all aspects of our way of life are dependent on affordable and reliable electricity supply,” the resolution says.
Henderson County Manager Steve Wyatt said the proposed resolution had two main purposes.
“We want to make sure that when we’re talking about economic development the question of adequate electricity never comes up,” he said, “and we don’t want ever to revisit the transmission line.”

Larry Rogers, executive director of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Progress, thanked the commissioners "for the work you did to get where we are" on the energy plan.