Contributor: Scott Ehrhardt, PE
Recently, Duke Energy came to us with a significant challenge related to the operation of one of its coal-fired generating plants. What was at stake? A major power supply, a pristine river, a diverse ecosystem that included threatened and endangered species, and the support of a regional community that cares deeply about its local waterways.
Duke Energy was challenged by chronically low levels of water in Belews Lake in North Carolina, where it has operated the Belews Creek Steam Station since 1974. New scrubbers at the plant, installed to meet stringent air quality regulations, had required increased withdrawals from a lake located on a tributary to the Dan River. Duke Energy was using expensive temporary pumping measures to transfer water from the Dan River to Belews Lake to keep the 2.24-GW plant in operation, but required a more feasible, permanent system for water transfer.
Thoughtful, Compliant Engineering to Support Healthy Waterways
With so much at stake, it’s gratifying to know that solid science, state-of-the-art technology, and a thoughtful engineering approach can all work together to create a cost-effective, long-term solution. Aided by our in-house modeling expertise, led by Dr. Sufian Khondker in our New York office, we were able to engineer an approach that includes a permanent raw water intake system (up to 65 MGD) with two velocity caps, fish screening, and four vertical turbine pumps. Working closely with Duke Energy staff, we also navigated a rigorous, multi-agency permitting process and kept community groups informed.
It was a large and challenging water transmission project but Duke Energy brought a lot of technical knowledge to the table, facilitating the effort from start to finish. The company also brought on a top-notch, experienced contractor, Crowder Construction, who did an excellent job. With this project, the high stakes led to high standards, all around. The result is a successful solution, with environmental protections in place and healthy North Carolina waterways that will continue to be enjoyed for fishing and boating.
Duke Energy was challenged by chronically low levels of water in Belews Lake in North Carolina, where it has operated the Belews Creek Steam Station since 1974.