Duke Energy proposes solar project in Asheville area

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Duke Energy Progress wants permission to build a 9.5-megawatt solar project at its natural gas plant near Asheville that would redeem a promise made several years ago.

In the application for the project, Justin LaRoche, Duke’s director of renewable development, concedes “the cost of the Asheville Plant Solar Facility is higher than many other utility-scale solar facilities in North Carolina due to the (mountain) location and the relatively small size of the project.”

“While siting a larger facility in a different region of North Carolina could result in potentially lower costs, the Asheville Plant ... fulfills DEP’s commitment,” made in the Western Carolina Modernization Plan approved in 2016. Duke Progress had promised to build 15 megawatts worth of solar in the Asheville region to modernize its electricity production in that part of the state.

That plan was worked out with area officials, businesses and environmental groups to win approval for construction of the 560-megawatt Asheville Combined-Cycle Plant in Arden.

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