Richmond County Site Frequently Asked Questions
Why is NCEMC building this plant?
North Carolina’s demand for energy continues to grow. Like all utilities, electric cooperatives have an obligation to ensure a reliable and affordable source of electricity for both residential and business consumers.
NCEMC constructed a peak-load generation facility of about 280 megawatts (MW) in Richmond County near the town of Hamlet.
Why did NCEMC choose the Hamlet site?
The Hamlet site offers the necessary access to electric transmission lines and natural gas resources. The facility occupies about 16 acres, but the entire site encompasses about 260 acres to provide adequate space for aesthetic and environmental buffers.
What type of facility is NCEMC building?
The plant consists of five Pratt & Whitney FT-8 Swift-Pac™ gas generation units operating in simple-cycle mode. The plant uses natural gas as the primary fuel and ultra-low sulfur fuel oil as a backup fuel.
In addition to the turbines, the plant has fuel storage tanks, water treatment equipment, water storage facilities, a plant control building, and a substation connecting the plant to the electrical transmission network.
In the simple cycle process, natural gas is converted into electricity by producing expanding hot gas from combustion to drive turbine rotors that are connected to an electrical generator.
What does peak load mean?
Peak load means the facility generates power during times of peak demand, such as the hottest summer days or coldest winter nights. This plant is expected to operate about 700 to 1,200 hours annually or about 10 percent of the time during a year.
Have economic development incentives been offered to attract this plant?
Richmond County assisted with infrastructure needs by providing water to the plant site.
Who will be using the electricity from this plant?
The end users are North Carolina consumers and businesses.
What are the environmental impacts of the facility?
Natural gas facilities are considered to be one of the cleanest ways to produce electricity.
The facility is not a major source of hazardous air pollutants. The turbines powering this plant are equipped with emission controls. The turbines use water injection to minimize nitrogen oxide (NOx) formation. High temperature oxidation catalysts are used to control carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.
The plant uses approximately 20 million gallons of water a year. Most of the water is dispersed as water vapor through the facility’s stacks.
A number of factors, including topography, vegetation and ambient sounds, can affect noise levels, but with noise abatement controls and ample buffers, sound from the facility should not be intrusive to the surrounding communities.
What are the benefits of this plant?
The facility has had both short and long term positive economic impacts. In the short term, the construction phase provided the local economy income from up to 200 jobs. In the long-term, a small staff manages the facility. The facility represents a substantial financial investment, with an accompanying boost to the local tax base. The facility will produce revenue for the benefit of county citizens throughout the plant’s 25 to 30 year lifespan.
The facility also ensures that the residential and business consumers of NC’s electric cooperatives continue to receive an affordable and reliable supply of electricity.
Where does NCEMC get its power today?
NCEMC obtains power from a number of sources. One key source is the Catawba Nuclear plant in York, S.C. NCEMC owns 28 percent of the Catawba plant. Additionally, NCEMC is a major purchaser of wholesale power, which it buys from several investor-owned utilities including Progress Energy, American Electric Power and SCANA.
Why doesn’t NCEMC buy more power instead of building a power plant?
NCEMC examined power purchases and other energy acquisitions and determined that constructing small peak-load plants would be in the best long-term interest for its members.
In 2003, NCEMC underwent an exhaustive request for proposal process for 900 MW of peak-load power. More than 68 proposals from 33 energy suppliers were examined.
After intense negotiations and study, the NCEMC board of directors determined construction of peak-load plants would best serve the long term energy needs of North Carolinians served by the state’s electric cooperatives.