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Duke Energy completes pumped storage facility upgrade in South Carolina

Published on May 1, 2024 by Dave Kovaleski

Photo credit: Duke Energy

Duke Energy has completed the upgrade of four units at the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Power Plant in Salem, South Carolina, adding 320 megawatts of carbon-free energy to the company's system.

Pumped storage power plants store and generate energy by moving water between two reservoirs at different elevations. They are an efficient and environmentally friendly way to store and provide large amounts of energy. Bad Creek, which began operations in 1991, is designed to produce large amounts of energy when customers need it most, acting as the largest “battery” in the company's system.

With the upgrades, the station's total capacity is now 1,680 megawatts.

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

The units were gradually modernized, with unit two completed in 2020, unit one in 2021 and unit three in 2023. The final part, Unit 4, was completed in April.

“From population growth to manufacturing expansion and other important economic development gains, the Carolinas are booming,” said Mike Callahan, president of Duke Energy in South Carolina. “We need a diverse energy mix to accommodate this growth on the coldest winter nights and the warmest summer days. We continue to explore solutions like the Bad Creek expansion to ensure that electricity is available when customers need it and is as affordable as possible – giving them peace of mind in their daily lives.”

Duke Energy is working on extending the license for the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Plant, which expires in 2027. The company is also exploring the possibility of adding a second power plant in Bad Creek, which would help Duke Energy further increase capacity and system variability. Expanding operations would also bring $7.3 billion in economic benefits to South Carolina.

Anna Harden

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