Duke Energy, Duke University partner on innovative power project

Under a proposed 35-year agreement and subject to approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), Duke Energy Carolinas proposes to own, build and operate a 21-megawatt (MW) natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) facility on the Duke University campus in Durham.

If approved, the plant would use the waste heat from generating electricity to produce thermal energy and steam needed for the university, making it one of the most efficient generating assets in the Duke Energy generation fleet. The electric power would be put back on the Duke Energy electric grid to serve the university and nearby customers.

“This project will provide a cleaner and more diverse energy mix for the community and provide the value of thermal energy for the university,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy North Carolina president. “The innovative approach provides multiple benefits to a large customer like Duke University and is a cost-effective generation asset for Duke Energy and our customers in North Carolina.”

In addition to 21 megawatts of power, the facility would be capable of producing roughly 75,000 pounds per hour of steam, which would be sold to Duke University for heating water among other things. The CHP facility would be connected to an existing Duke Energy substation located on the campus, which serves the university and its medical center as well as other customers.

“This partnership will provide value for Duke University and will accelerate our progress towards climate neutrality,” said Duke University’s executive vice president Tallman Trask III.  “By combining steam and electricity generation systems, we can increase efficiency and reduce our overall consumption by millions of units of energy each year, and have a positive effect on the community at large.”

By displacing the current electricity mix and boilers currently serving the university, the project would lower energy-related carbon dioxide emissions at Duke University by about 25 percent. In the future, the project could also be used to isolate the critical loads on the campus, providing a method to increase reliability to hospitals and clinics as additional grid back up.

Duke Energy Carolinas will file with the NCUC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project. If approved, the project – around $55 million – is expected to come online in 2018.

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