W.S. Lee Steam Station

From Global Energy Monitor

W.S. Lee Steam Station was a three-unit coal-fired power station owned and operated by Duke Energy near Pelzer, South Carolina.

The coal-fired power station was retired over 2014 to 2015. Units 1 and 2 will be decommissioned, and unit 3 has been converted to burn natural gas. A separate 750- megawatt natural gas combined-cycle plant will be built at the site, with construction expected to begin in summer 2015.[1]

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Plant Data

  • Owner/Parent Company: Duke Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 355 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 90 MW (1951), 90 MW (1951), 175 MW (1958)[2]
  • Location: Hwy. S-4/178, Pelzer, SC 29669
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.605278, -82.444444
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 1,656,246 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Coal Waste Sites

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from W.S. Lee Steam Station

On its website Duke Energy states that "In 2004, Duke Energy entered into a voluntary agreement with the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control to install additional nitrogen oxide emission controls at Lee Steam Station. The controls support the Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson Early Action Compact to reduce smog-forming emissions in Upstate South Carolina."[1]

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[3] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[4]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from W.S. Lee Steam Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 33 $240,000,000
Heart attacks 46 $5,000,000
Asthma attacks 540 $28,000
Hospital admissions 23 $550,000
Chronic bronchitis 20 $8,800,000
Asthma ER visits 32 $12,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

W.S. Lee ranked 100th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[5] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[6]

W.S. Lee Steam Station ranked number 100 on the list, with 190,030 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[5]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Duke Energy, "Lee Steam Station", Duke Energy website, accessed Feb 2016
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "GeneratorY09", Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report, U.S. Department of Energy, 2009. (This is a spreadsheet within a zipped data file).
  3. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  4. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  6. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.

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