By Stan Welch
A gathering of civic, political and business leaders will appear at ten o’clock Friday morning at the Anderson Civic Center for the official announcement of the economic development project currently called Project Mystery Green.
The project is generally acknowledged to be a massive upgrade of the Lee Steam Plant, and it is designed in part to address environmental concerns about the plant; as well as to significantly increase the generation of power through the newer technology.Ryan Mosier, Duke’s director of corporate communication for South Carolina, offered such assurances in a telephone interview earlier this week. A study issued by the EA in 2010 indicated that the two earthen dams at the site posed a potential problem because their failure could lead to a major spill of toxic coal ash into the Saluda River.
The study found evidence of some seepage from the ponds, but the threat assessment was based more on the potential damage of a spill than on the actual likelihood of such a spill in the imminent future. The project has apparently received the necessary permits and is prepared to proceed.
That plan calls for the retiring and replacement of the two oldest coal fired generators by April of 2015, and the conversion of the third and newer unit to natural gas. The three natural gas fired units will be capable of producing 750 kilowatts of power; and will be much cleaner and greener in terms of the effects on the environment. Coal will no longer be used at the Lee site.
The plan involves the installation of approximately $100 million in pollution control equipment, according to information presented to the Anderson County Council at a recent meeting. The total capital investment in the project is expected to approach $700 million and employ as many as five hundred construction workers.
The Williamston, West Pelzer and Pelzer areas will experience the greatest economic impact.