Duke Energy operates a coal-fired power plant on Lake Julian in South Asheville. Residents had expressed concern about air pollution from the plant, particularly in the production of small particulate matter that can aggravate asthma and other respiratory problems. Burning coal also leads to the formation of sulfur dioxide. In May 2015, Duke announced that it would close the coal facility by 2020, after construction of a new plant at Lake Julian powered by natural gas. Environmentalists have criticized the scale of Duke’s proposed gas-fired plant, arguing that a third, less-efficient turbine was unnecessary. The company has announced that it will review those plans based on projected city growth and power needs.
Duke has promised to incorporate solar power generation into the facility, but has not released details on the extent of the plan. Additional infrastructure including a power transmission line to a substation in South Carolina and an expanded gas pipeline is also planned. Duke and its contractors continue to excavate coal ash material generated over the last several decades that is stored in ponds near the Lake Julian site.