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Clemson residents, council oppose plans to build power plant
Courtesy of Duke Energy.

A page from Duke Energy’s application filed with the S.C. Public Service Commission shows details of the power plant’s planned site. The plans can be accessed here:

Duke Energy Carolinas has proposed the construction of a $50.8 million power plant on Clemson University’s campus, and some local residents are concerned.


The 16-megawatt power plant, which would burn natural gas and include two, 75-foot-tall emission stacks, is proposed to be built on the east side of the university’s campus.


The site is close to residences on Roslyn Drive and Vineyard Road and is behind the National Guard Armory on U.S. 76. This parcel of land is university-owned and therefore not subject to city oversight.


Residents said they were unaware of plans to build the power plant until last week, when one of them stumbled upon an article about the plant in the Charlotte Business Journal.


A few of the residents met with Duke Energy on Friday, March 31, and the company “confirmed they were building a combined heating and power plant 100 feet from our property,” resident Tanya Hyatt said.


Hyatt said she is concerned about the power plant’s effects on the water supply and the noise it will generate.


“We also have children with autism, and having a power plant is going to be noisy,” Hyatt said. “Duke Energy said that they have run sound tests and that there will be some noise, but we don’t really know because they’re not telling us.”


Close to 30 residents, including seven children, also voiced their concerns during city council’s meeting on Monday, April 3. During the meeting, Mayor J.C. Cook told residents that the city didn’t learn about the plans until a few days ago.


He and the council also voted for a resolution stating their opposition to the project and instructed City Attorney Mary McCormac to explore any legal options.


Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said the company has submitted notice of the project to local newspapers even though it is not subject to local hearings.


“Our intent was never to leave out the community, and we are pleased to help address any questions next week at our community open house on the topic,” Mosier said. “Working in close partnership with Clemson University, we will absolutely be keeping the community apprised of our progress going forward.”


The open house will be held on Monday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Clemson Presbyterian Church.


Plans for the power plant have been in the works for a while. During its April 2016 meeting, the Clemson University Board of Trustees approved leasing approximately 1.35 acres to Duke Energy for the power plant. According to minutes from the meeting, the motion to approve the leases was unanimous.


“The CHP plant will allow Clemson to repurpose its less-efficient fuel oil/natural gas steam boilers for supplemental use only, reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Clemson University spokesman John Gouch said, “The facility will help Clemson University meet its environmental goals to become carbon neutral by 2030, as outlined in the university’s Sustainable Energy Policy and Sustainability Action Plan.”


Duke Energy plans to use excess heat from the plant to produce steam, which it will sell to the university for heating campus buildings. In addition, a new electrical substation, which would provide electricity to the city and campus, would be located adjacent to the site.


Duke Energy does not need approval from the S.C. Public Service Commission to build the power plant because it is smaller than 75 megawatts and therefore does not qualify as a “major utility facility”. The company did, however, ask the commission to approve the steam contract without notice or a hearing in its application filed on Feb. 21.


The commission voted unanimously to deny Duke Energy’s request for waiver of notice and hold in abeyance, or temporarily put on hold, its request for approval without hearing on March 8.


Duke Energy has also proposed a 21-megawatt natural gas project at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, though talks on the project are currently on hold after several student and faculty groups, as well as local and state environmental groups, objected to the plans.


This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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