Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Salisbury City Council passed a resolution Tuesday in support of Duke Energy’s proposed natural gas-fired plant at the Buck Steam Station.
Duke Energy is seeking approval from the N.C. Utilities Commission to construct the 620-megawatt, combined-cycle, natural gas unit at the Buck site in Rowan County and has been trying to gather local support for that application.
So far, the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, Rowan County Board of Commissioners and Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen have approved the resolution.
Randy Welch, Duke’s district manager in Salisbury, said the addition at Buck Steam Station would be one piece in a robust energy package aimed at meeting customer growth.
Duke Energy adds roughly 50,000 new customers a year, and the Buck Steam Station project would be designed to help meet intermediate demand that is above the base load needed on a seasonal or daily basis.
Duke Energy says the new Buck Steam Station plant would employ state-of-the-art technology to minimize plant emissions. Its cooling towers also would minimize the impact on the Yadkin River, the company said.
As part of the new gas-fired plant, the station would retire two older, less-efficient coal units at the site.
If approved, the initial construction workforce would be 50 people on the site and would increase to almost 500 during the peak building period.
In operation, the natural gas-fired plant would employ about 20 people.
Councilman Mark Lewis expressed support of Duke Energy’s plans because it would lead to a net reduction of emissions in a non-attainment area for federal air quality standards.
It also would be moth-balling two old coal units that contribute to the poor air quality, Lewis noted.
Welch said the coal units being retired now generate about 130 megawatts of electricity. Buck Steam would still have other coal units in operation, in addition to single-cycle gas-fired unit.
With state approval this year, the plant could be built and operational in two to three years.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or