A subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. started up a $330 million natural gas-fired power plant in Cleveland County on Tuesday.
Four gas-turbine units have a combined capacity of 720 megawatts. The power will be sold to the N.C. Electric Membership Corp., which serves electrical cooperatives, and N.C. Municipal Power Agency Number 1 that supplies 19 municipalities in western North Carolina.
The project created a peak of about 300 construction jobs and eight permanent jobs to run the plant. It illustrates energy companies increasing turn to natural gas fuel, which burns cleaner than coal and has dropped sharply in price.
Subsidiary Southern Power is among the largest wholesale energy companies in the Southeast. It acquired a 925-megawatt gas-fired plant in Rowan County in 2006 and, with Turner Renewable Energy, bought a 2.5-megawatt solar farm in Granville County in October.
Southern Co., the parent company, has 4.4 million customers in four states.