Duke seeks approval for SMRs at retiring N.C. coal plant

August 18, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Duke Energy has filed an update to its 2022 state-mandated carbon-reduction plan with the public utility commissions of North and South Carolina, proposing the deployment of small modular reactors at the Belews Creek coal plant in Stokes County, N.C., which is slated for retirement next decade. A similar system would be added at a second site yet to be determined for a total of 600 MW of advanced nuclear. (Both the advanced reactor production tax credit and investment tax credit included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act offer a 10 percent bonus for facilities sited in certain energy communities, including those with retiring coal plants.)

The update—the 2023 Carolinas Resource Plan—also stresses the importance of Duke’s current fleet of 11 reactors, calling life extension for the units “a bedrock assumption for the plan, providing for the continuation of a major source of reliable, zero-carbon, cost-competitive power.”

According to Duke’s August 15 announcement, based on accelerating economic development in the two states, the utility’s load growth is projected to surge by around 35,000 gigawatt-hours in the next 15 years—more than the annual electric generation of Delaware, Maine, and New Hampshire combined. The new resource plan proposes infrastructure investments of more than $90 billion to meet this growing need.

Other proposals: In addition to new nuclear, Duke is also looking to add 6,000 MW of new solar by 2031; 2,700 MW of battery storage by 2031; 5,800 MW of natural gas capacity that can be transitioned to emission-free hydrogen by 2032; 1,200 MW of onshore wind by 2033; 1,600 of offshore wind by 2033 or later; and 1,700 MW of stored hydroelectric energy by 2034.

C-suite statement: “We’re preparing for this extraordinary growth in energy demand by prioritizing grid reliability, energy affordability, and the deployment of a diverse range of energy options that support the sustainability goals of our South Carolina customers,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president.

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