HomeSouth CarolinaDuke Energy boosts clean energy capacity in Salem, South Carolina

Duke Energy boosts clean energy capacity in Salem, South Carolina

Salem, South Carolina – The Carolinas are experiencing significant economic growth and a rising population, which is increasing their energy demands. In response, Duke Energy aims to maintain dependable energy for its customers. The company has recently finished enhancements to all four units at its Bad Creek pumped storage facility located in Salem, South Carolina. These improvements have added 320 megawatts of clean energy, boosting the facility’s total output to 1,680 megawatts.

Pumped storage hydro plants like Bad Creek use a smart and eco-friendly method to store and supply large amounts of energy. They operate by shifting water between two reservoirs at different heights. Since its launch in 1991, Bad Creek has been crucial in supplying energy during peak demand times, making it the largest “battery” in Duke Energy’s network.

“This investment in Bad Creek demonstrates our commitment to improving reliability across the Carolinas. Pumped storage technology gives us operational flexibility, allowing us to store energy and then deploy that energy when customer demand is highest,” said Preston Gillespie, executive vice president and chief generation officer and enterprise operational excellence, in a press release. “Expanding our energy storage capabilities is just one of the many steps we are taking in the next phase of our energy transition.”

The upgrades at the Bad Creek pumped storage facility were completed in stages, with each new pump turbine adding 80 megawatts (MW) of capacity. The upgrade for Unit 2 was finished in 2020, Unit 1 in 2021, Unit 3 in 2023, and Unit 4 in April 2023.

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Currently, Duke Energy is working on extending the operating license for Bad Creek, which is due to expire in 2027. Alongside this, the company is considering building a second powerhouse at the facility. This addition would not only increase the system’s capacity but also help manage the fluctuations caused by the rise in solar power and consumer energy use. If this project goes ahead, the new powerhouse could be operational by as early as 2034.

“From population growth to the expansion of manufacturing and other major economic development wins, the Carolinas are booming,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “We must have a diverse energy mix to account for this growth on the coldest winter nights and the warmest summer days. We continue to look at solutions like expanding Bad Creek to make sure the power is there when customers need it, and it is as affordable as possible – providing certainty as they go about their daily lives.”

Read also: Duke Energy Progress proposes major solar project near Robinson Nuclear Plant in South Carolina

Furthermore, expanding Bad Creek is expected to bring significant economic advantages to South Carolina, potentially generating $7.3 billion from construction and infrastructure developments by 2033.

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