Duke Energy Progress has secured approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to build two 280MW combined cycle natural gas-fuelled electric generating units in Asheville, North Carolina.
The new units will replace the company’s current 376MW coal plant that will be retired by 2020, and will have lower environmental impacts compared to the existing coal plant.
The new plants are projected to reduce sulphur dioxide by almost 99%, nitrogen oxide by about 45%, mercury emissions to negligible levels, water discharges by about 50%, and carbon dioxide emissions by about 60%. Moreover, they are expected to be about 35% less expensive to operate than the existing plant.
The project, valued at about $1bn, will also include the refurbishment of the existing transmission equipment on the Asheville Plant site.
Construction work on the new facilities is expected to commence in 2016, with operations anticipated to start in the end of 2019.
Duke Energy North Carolina president David Fountain said: "We appreciate the North Carolina Utilities Commission's thorough consideration and decision on our Western Carolinas Modernization Project. We are fully committed to creating a smarter and cleaner energy future for the region.
"We also have a unique opportunity to work with the community to reduce energy demand and invest in technology that will provide cleaner energy to power the growing region of Western North Carolina. This project will allow us to continue to provide cost-effective, reliable power for all of our customers in North Carolina and South Carolina."