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Duke accelerates route choice to October

Facing a growing storm of opposition to its proposed 45-mile transmission line from Upstate South Carolina to Asheville, Duke Energy said Friday that it would announce its recommended route for the power line in early October, three months earlier than originally planned.


Duke Energy has been considering a series of possible “line segments” for the new approximately 40-mile transmission line to ensure environmental and community impacts could be minimized as much as possible.

“We’ve been listening closely to potentially impacted communities and landowners along the study routes and have heard overwhelmingly from them the need to expedite the review process to reduce the period of uncertainty for selecting the final route,” said Robert Sipes, who is newly appointed as Duke Energy’s Western North Carolina regional general manager. “We’ve expanded our team, accelerated the schedule and are committing to complete our comprehensive process for route selection by early October.

“We welcome all input as this will be a transparent process to all interested parties. We will fully consider all feedback and input as we finalize our route recommendation,” Sipes said. “While we are expediting our decision, we are not sacrificing thoroughness.”

The 230-kilovolt power line will connect the western Carolinas region and Duke Energy’s new Asheville power plant to a new substation in Campobello, S.C. It is a key part of the company’s $1.1 billion Western Carolinas modernization project that includes replacing Asheville coal plant with a new natural gas power plant, the utility said.

The project, Duke says, will significantly reduce emissions and water use and help meet the growing power demand in the Western Carolinas. Based on current natural gas prices, it will also produce electricity 35 percent less expensively and significantly enhance long-term power reliability in the region.

Duke Energy previously extended its public comment period on the route options to Aug. 31. Visit Duke's website here

to find out more or email comments.

The company has held three public meetings on the project and received almost 3,000 comments to date.