Duke Energy to build SC power plant

Duke Energy said Friday it will build the natural gas-fired power plant in South Carolina that regulators approved in April.

The 750-megawatt plant will go up at the existing Lee site in Anderson County, S.C. North Carolina Electric Membership Corp., which supplies power to electric cooperatives, will own 100 megawatts of the output.

The go-ahead continues Duke’s move away from coal-fired power plants and toward cleaner-burning natural gas, a fuel that has dropped in price recent years.

The combined-cycle plant to be built at Lee makes electricity by burning natural gas and also by making steam from exhaust heat. It’s expected to open in November 2017 and cost at least $600 million.

Construction will employ a peak labor force of at least 500 people, Duke said, and about 25 employees will run the completed plant.

The Lee complex includes three coal-fired units and two other gas-fired units. Two of the three coal units will be retired in 2015 and the third converted to gas fuel. The existing gas units will continue to operate.