North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Joins Duke Energy Generation Project

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, the Raleigh-based wholesale power provider to and trade association for the state’s network of 26 electric distribution cooperatives, plans to partner with Duke Energy on its proposed hydrogen-capable natural gas plant in Person County.

“We are pleased to partner with Duke Energy on this flexible generation project,” said Amadou Fall, COO for North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), the wholesale power supply arm for 20 of North Carolina’s electric distribution cooperatives.

As announced by Duke Energy, this project, called the Person County Energy Complex, is a critical piece of the energy transition away from coal to a source of generation that emits less than half the emissions of coal.

“Our participation in this project will allow us to uphold our long-term commitments of providing reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost, while also working toward an important sustainability goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Fall. “Not only is natural gas a cleaner source of generation, but it is also an important complement to renewable energy growth in terms of reliability because it can ramp up and down quickly as generation from renewable energy naturally fluctuates.”

Combined cycle natural gas plants operate at increased efficiency by using both gas and steam turbines to produce electricity, effectively capturing exhaust heat from the gas turbine to power a secondary generator. When hydrogen gas becomes a viable source of fuel, a hydrogen-capable natural gas plant is able to use both natural gas and hydrogen to produce electricity.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Duke Energy plans to begin construction of the new natural gas unit in 2025, with a target to have it operational by late 2028. At that point, NCEMC will own approximately 16% of the electricity produced, or 225 megawatts (MW) of the new unit’s capacity. Duke Energy will operate and maintain the plant.

NCEMC’s share of the Person County plant would expand its generating portfolio comprising more than 60% carbon-free generating resources, including a 61.5% share of the Catawba Nuclear Station’s Unit 1. NCEMC generation resources also include more than 250 MW of renewables, distributed resources and demand response programs; ownership of a 13.3% share of the Duke Energy 750-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant at W.S. Lee Station in Anderson County, South Carolina; and full ownership of dual-fuel natural gas peak generating plants located in Anson and Richmond counties.