Duke Energy to buy biogas from developing N.C. plant

By Anna Simet | March 21, 2016

Colorado-based Carbon Cycle Energy plans to build a swine- and poultry-based biogas plant in southeast North Carolina, and Duke Energy has signed an agreement with the company to purchase gas produced at the facility.

Carbon Cycle Energy will build and own the facility. CEO James Powell said there is still work to do with licensing, local regulations and completing for the plant’s organic waste supply chain, but “having a confirmed buyer like Duke Energy is a major step,” he said.

The exact location and plant specifics aren’t included in the March 18 North Carolina Utilities Commission filing, which indicates gas produced at the facility will be cleaned, upgraded and injected into the pipeline and ultimately used to generate electricity of four of Duke Energy’s power plants, all of which are currently retired stations that previously ran on fossil fuels. Duke has named them as: Buck Steam Station in Rowan County; Dan River Steam Station in Rockingham County; H.F. Lee Station Combined Cycle Plant in Wayne County; and Sutton Combined Cycle Plant in New Hanover County

Duke will purchase the gas via a 15-year contract, generating renewable energy certificates that will help the utility meet some general requirements of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires investor-owned utilities to purchase or generate 12.5 percent renewable energy by 2021. The RPS includes specific provisions for solar energy, swine waste resources and poultry waste resources—for swine waste, the regulation states that by 2018, at least 0.2 percent of total electric power in kilowatt hours sold to retail electric customer in the state must be supplied, or contracted for supply in each year, by swine waste. The requirement scales up from 0.07 percent in 2012, to .014 percent in 2015, reaching 0.2 percent in 2018.

Under the life of the contract, Carbon Cycle Energy expects to annually produce more than 1 million MMBtus of pipeline-quality, captured methane, allowing Duke to yield about 125,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy a year, enough to power about 10,000 homes.