Conner said the protesters - about 20 in all - had only been on the site for a few minutes when a Duke Energy employee called police. Sheriff's deputies quickly disrupted the protest near parked construction equipment on Duke Power Road, he said.
"They were shocked that they were arrested so quickly," Conner said. "As soon as they pulled out their banners, an officer pulled up."
Several protesters chained themselves to equipment, but they were unlocked or cut free by police. Police charged four with misdemeanor trespassing and four more with both trespassing and misdemeanor resist, obstruct or delay.
None of those arrested was from Cleveland or Rutherford counties.
"They're not local people," Conner said. According to arrest reports, the group came from as far as Nashville, Tenn., but were mainly composed of college-aged Asheville residents. He said some of the protestors who were arrested were stunned with a Taser when they refused to cooperate with officers. Most of those on the site dispersed when police asked.
Conner said the protest was the first incident at the plant since Duke Energy received an OK from the state to begin construction on a new 800-megawatt coal-fired generator. No damage to the construction equipment has been reported, said Duke Energy spokeswoman Marilyn Lineberger.
"It's really no surprise," she said. "The groups have said all along they'd try to do things to delay the construction, but the good news is it didn't have an effect on operations or construction."
The protest was one of hundreds organized worldwide as part of "Fossil Fools Day," according to a blog posted at www.fossilfoolsdayofaction.org.
Duke Energy has a zero tolerance policy for illegal activity like protests, Lineberger said; however, the company is happy to discuss the plant's construction in a legal forum.