Duke Energy may retire its 668-MW Wabash River coal-fired power plant in Indiana, depending on EPA's final Hazardous Air Pollutants rule, might buy stake in existing natural gas power plant in Vermillion County, Indiana

LOS ANGELES , September 21, 2011 () – Depending on the final federal emissions rule that is due out in November, Duke Energy Corp. might have to closed down its 668-megawatt (MW) Wabash River coal-fired power plant in Indiana, said a company spokesperson, reported Reuters on Sept. 20.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based utility has not yet decided, but that decision would only affect five of the six units at the plant, said Duke spokesperson Angeline Protogere.

Units 2, 3, 4 and 5, and possibly Unit 6 could be retired at the plant by 2014, depending on the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) rule, which was proposed in March.

Unit 1 at the plant is not owned by Duke but is part of the Wabash Valley Association’s 260-MW gasification project. The six-unit station was brought into service between 1953 and 1968, Reuters reported.

Duke also plans to close or convert to natural gas two of the four units at its 560-MW Gallagher coal-fired power plant in Indiana, said Protogere, noting that the plans were related to past federal litigation and not the EPA’s proposed HAP rule.

The utility also might buy a stake in an existing natural gas power plant in Vermillion County, Indiana.

Work on Duke’s 618-MW coal-gasification power plant near Edwardsport, Indiana, is about 95% complete, said Protogere. The plant cost an estimated US$2.88 billion and is scheduled to start operating in 2012, according to Duke’s website, reported Reuters.

The HAP rule aims to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants and gives companies until November 2014 to comply, under its current form.

The rule could affect some 1,350 coal- and oil-fired units at 525 power plants that account for about 24% of the country’s power generation, American Electric Power Inc. noted in a report on the Columbus, Ohio-based company’s website.

While several states, regional power grid operators and others are concerned how the HAP rule would affect power reliability and prices, environmental groups and certain energy companies say there is enough clean but under-used power available to fill any gaps created by coal-fired power retirements, Reuters reported.

The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, on Sept. 20, 2011.

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