Duke to begin razing Indiana’s oldest coal plant
EDWARDSPORT, Ind. (AP) — Duke Energy Corp. is preparing to demolish Indiana’s first large, coal-fired power plant, which powered many of the trains that linked the state’s cities and towns when it started operation in 1918.
Duke Energy closed the plant near the town of Edwardsport last spring. The Vincennes Sun-Commercial reports (http://bit.ly/pqXkpr) crews will begin demolishing the structure next month. It has been dwarfed by the $3 billion coal-gasification plant the company is building nearby.
Company spokesman Lew Middleton said there had been discussion a few years ago of possibly turning the plant into a museum, perhaps one that would chronicle the history of coal and coal-fired electricity generation.
“There had been some talk of that, I think, but of course those were days when the economics were a lot better than they are now,” Middleton said.
The Indiana Power Co. built the plant to power the trains that once connected the state’s communities. But as the internal-combustion engine evolved and automobiles became affordable, the need for such trains greatly diminished and the plant’s electricity was diverted to light homes and businesses.
The plant was built at Edwardsport because of its proximity to the West Fork of the White River and an abundance of relatively easily mined coal nearby.
Eventually, the plant was purchased by Public Service Indiana, which was later sold to Cinergy, which, in turn, was bought by Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy.
In the late 1950s new generating units were added to boost the plant’s generating capacity to 130 megawatts. But in recent years the plant was used only when it was absolutely necessary due to the high cost of running it and the comparatively small amount of power it produced.
Duke officials announced four years ago that they would shut down the Edwardsport plant within 10 years, regardless of whether the new coal-gasification plant would be built at the site.
The new 630-megawatt plant is expected to go online next fall. Duke touts it as one of the largest coal-gasification plants in the world. It will convert coal into a synthetic gas processed to remove pollutants such as mercury and sulfur.
The gas will then be burned in a traditional turbine power plant to produce electricity.
Middleton said Duke will turn the site of the old plant in a storage area for burned coal, or slag, produced by the new coal-gasification plant.
Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, http://www.vincennes.com
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