By John Downey
The S.C. Public Service Commission has unanimously approved Duke Energy’s proposed $700 million W.S. Lee combined cycle natural gas plant.
The plant, scheduled to open as early as 2017, will be jointly owned by Duke and the N.C. Electric Membership Corp. Duke will own 90 percent of the plant.
In its decision Wednesday, the commission declined to add any conditions that environmental groups had asked commissioners to attach to the 750-megawatt plant, slated to be built near Anderson, S.C.
“The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League requested that the commission require Duke and NCEMC to submit (a request for proposals) for … a 375 megawatt solar facility that would be built in addition” to the gas plant, Commissioner Randy Randall noted in his motion. But he said, “Duke does not need the additional 375 megawatts of capacity at this time,” so he moved that the condition not be included.
He also made a motion for the commission to reject a request by the groups to mandate that the plant not open before 2018. “Depending on cost considerations and electricity demand, Duke should determine the … in-service date for the proposed generating plant.”
The motion passed without opposition, with Commissioner Brent McGee absent.
However, the commission did vote that “Duke should continue to consider cost-effective solar generation as a part of its planning future.”