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Duke gets approval for biomass facilities

The North Carolina Utilities Commission said today that it has approved Duke Energy Corp.’s Carolina’s Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, N.C., and Lee Steam Station in Williamson, S.C., as renewable-energy facilities, clearing the path for the company to use a controversial fuel source: wood chips from whole trees.

Duke applied with the commission March 1 to use wood chips from whole trees as a form of biomass, but MeadWestvaco and Environmental Defense Fund opposed the registration of the facilities. MeadWestvaco, a paper company, said the use of whole trees could shrink the tree inventory and raise costs for paper production. EDF criticized the use of whole trees, saying the trees should be replanted.

Duke’s legal team argued that North Carolina Senate Bill 3, which sets renewable-energy benchmarks, intended for a broad definition of biomass.

Duke spokesman Jason Walls today said the utility company’s use of whole trees will help keep costs down and ensure that there is enough supply for the two power plants.

Walls also said Duke will continue to look at biomass as a way to meet the renewable-energy standards set by state government.

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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