Nimble and Reliable: Natural Gas Generation
Natural gas generation plays a role in a brighter future for electric co-op members
Most may be familiar with natural gas as an option, where available, for heating homes and lighting stovetops and fireplaces. But North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are using the resource for a much bigger job: generating power while helping to ensure reliability across the power grid.
The North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), which supplies power to 25 NC electric co-ops, owns two natural gas plants. The Anson and Hamlet plants, located in Anson and Richmond counties, respectively, use combustion turbines — large jet engines similar to what you’d find on a plane — to quickly ramp up power when it’s needed.
- Both plants came online in 2007.
- Each plant has six units; the Hamlet Plant’s sixth unit was added in 2014.
- Combined, the plants provide a capacity of 672 megawatts.
- The plants use a 1:1 mixture of demineralized water and natural gas for fuel, a mixture that helps reduce emissions.
- Each plant stores a total 900,000 gallons of water onsite in two above-ground tanks.
- The plants are heavily automated, and can be run with few employees or even started remotely from on offsite control center.
A reliable resource
- The plants are used as “peaking” units, providing power during times of high demand.
- Natural gas generation can also be used to supplement renewable sources of power when not available, such as solar on a cloudy day.
- Backup batteries provide power to control the turbines should the plants themselves lose power.
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