SC approves Duke Energy power plant

South Carolina regulators on Friday formally approved a 750-megawatt, natural gas-fueled power plant in Anderson, S.C., to be owned largely by Duke Energy.

Duke will own 650 megawatts of the plant’s capacity and the North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. 100 megawatts.

It will open in 2017 or 2018, according to the South Carolina Public Service Commission order. The site is at Duke’s W.S. Lee coal-fired power plant.

Duke Carolinas has 2.4 million customers in both states. The membership corporation supplies power to 25 electric cooperatives and also owns part of Duke’s Catawba nuclear station.

Duke and South Carolina’s Office of Regulatory Staff, which represents public interests, reached a settlement on the permit in January.

The new plant will use a combined-cycle design, which uses both a gas-fueled turbine to make electricity and a steam turbine fueled by the waste heat from the gas turbine.

Advocates had asked South Carolina’s Public Service Commission to require that Duke also build a 375-megawatt solar farm near the plant. The commission ruled that the solar energy is not needed.

The new power plant is part of Duke’s strategy of retiring older coal-fired power plants and building new ones fueled by cleaner-burning natural gas.