Photo Courtesy of Bill Sublette/SELC

Early last month, Duke Power announced that it was reevaluating a plan to build a controversial transmission line in the Western Carolinas.

Now, in the face mounting opposition from land owners, conservation groups, and local governments in both North and South Carolina, the power giant has decided to abandon the project altogether.

The proposed power line would have run for 40-plus miles through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Asheville, North Carolina to Campabello, South Carolina, as part of a broader project Duke had dubbed the “Western Carolinas Modernization Project.”

This strongly contested proposal also included the construction of a large natural gas unit near Asheville which Duke had hoped would replace a recently retired coal fired plant, and a power substation in Campabello.

The company posted a statement on its website this morning saying that the both the 45-mile transmission line and the Campbell Substation have been abandoned, while the size of the proposed natural gas plant near Asheville has been reduced.

“Under the revised plan, (we) will replace (our) coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one,” the statement reads. “As a result, the proposed 45-mile Foothills Transmission Line and Campobello substation are no longer necessary.”

When plans for the project were unveiled over the summer, opposition began to surface almost immediately. Thousands of citizens across the western Carolinas turned up at public meetings to decry Duke’s plans, while commenters flooded Duke’s website with negative reactions, and an online petition asking Duke to terminate the project garnered nearly 6,000 signatures.

“Duke Energy’s decision to abandon its proposed power line and substation is a victory for the thousands of citizens across the western Carolinas who have stood up to protect the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Piedmont,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center.  “Through their efforts, our mountains and our quality of life have been protected against this power line and substation.   This Thanksgiving, we can be thankful that our communities and our mountains will be protected against these two threats.  We hope that in the future Duke Energy will look turn away from old fossil fuels and turn toward modern clean alternatives like solar, wind, and energy efficiency. ”