Demolition, construction underway at Lee Steam

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Duke Energy update

By David Meade

During the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) meeting held last week, Brian Naumuk, Station Manager at the Duke Energy WS Lee Steam/Gas facility, gave an update on construction and operations currently underway at the facility. Naumuk said Duke Energy is cutting coal use by going from coal to natural gas. Coal use was at 55 percent for the energy company in 2005. It is now at 38 percent.

The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants. SO2 (Sulfur dioxide) emissions are down by 92 percent, he said. Natural gas-fired combined-cycle plants are very efficient in the production of electricity and have lower emissions than other generating sources.

“Hydro continues to grow and mirrors what is happening at Lee,” Naumuk said. Other examples are Duke facilities at Bad Creek and Jocassee.

At Lee Steam, Unit 3 has been converted from coal to natural gas “and is still participating in supplying power,” Naumuk said.

Two older coal fired gas units were retired in 2014 and have been decommissioned.

Naumuk said all coal has been removed from the property.

During recent weeks workers have been doing demolition of the old plant facilities that are no longer needed. The stacks for the decommissioned units have recently been torn down and last week the cooling towers located on the river were removed.

In addition to the upgrade and conversion at the original Lee Steam plant, two other major projects, removal of coal ash and construction of a new natural gas power plant, are underway.

The removal of coal ash from the property is also a part of the coal to gas conversion process.

According to Naumuk, coal ash is being removed from basins on the property and taken to the R&B Landfill in Homer, Georgia.

Special designed side dump trucks are making approximately 50 trips per day. He said the goal of 100 trips per day hasn’t been reached but “It is going very well.”

Naumuk said plans are to be at 150 trucks per day and “will likely get to a bit more.”

Duke Energy has retired 11 coal facilities similar to the WS Lee Steam plant including Riverbend and Buck.

At Lee Steam, Duke is investing in a new 750-megawatt natural gas-fire combined-cycle facility.

The North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) will co-own 100 megawatts of the project.

Naumuk said plans for the new plant are to have its first fire in May of 2017 and be commercial by November of 2017.

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Currently construction workers are laying the foundations for the equipment and putting in piping and electrical.

“We are just getting started good,” he said.

According to Naumuk, there are currently 100 to 200 cars at the facility as part of the construction. “There is a lot of work going on,” he said.

During the height of construction, at least 500 temporary construction jobs will be created.

According to Naumuk, up to 49 full-time workers will be needed when the new plant goes online in 2017.

He said they will all be well paying jobs. Twenty-nine will be craft/technicians with multi skill operators with electric and IT backgrounds. Planners and engineers will manage the facility.

There are currently 23 workers operating the original Lee Steam plant.

In addition to the demoliltion and construction, workers have recently been nstalling new groundwater monitoring wells on the Duke property. This process should be completed by mid-October.

Naumuk said door hangers are being placed at nearby residences when something new takes place during construction such as the recent well drilling.

Additional information and updates on the Lee Steam project are available on the Duke website at https://www.duke-energy.com/

Maumuk also said the Duke Energy Lee Steam annual golf tournament will be held Oct. 2 at Saluda Valley Country Club..

During the business portion of the meeting, GWBA members discussed their upcoming Oct. 9 fall golf tournament which will be held Oct. 9 at Saluda Valley Country Club.

Information and applications are available on the GWBA website at www.gwba.info.

Members also approved funding for the annual Christmas Party in December. The event will be held at Sullivan’s in Anderson.

Williamston Mayor Mack Durham updated GWBA members on the recent VW Campout and Homesteading Festival and the bike and pedestrian plan.

Durham said the plan recommended 20 miles of new sidewalks with interconnecting walking and bike trails and bike lanes.

The mayor also mentioned upcoming events including Boo in the Park, the Christmas Park and Parade.

The next meeting of the GWBA will be Oct. 20 at the Anderson Districts One & Two Career and Technology Center.