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Duke Energy Shuts Down Wabash River Generating Station

Coal plant.

Duke Energy's coal-fired power plant in Terre Haute is officially shut down. The company's air quality permit at the Wabash River Generating Station expired today.

It's the only plant the national power company will close, as it works to comply with new federal pollution rules.

As part of a settlement with environmental groups, Duke set a 2016 deadline for cutting out coal at its power plants, or cleaning them up to meet stricter EPA standards.

The company has power plants in six states and is Indiana’s largest energy supplier. It converted most of its plants to natural gas, or invested in other upgrades. But spokesman Lew Middleton says Terre Haute's power units are among the smallest and oldest in the system.

"Some of them are 50-plus years old," Middleton says. "So we made the decision to close those units down in addition to unit six, rather than install some very expensive pollution control equipment."

Unit six could have run on natural gas, but the company decided against that, too -- putting 50 Duke workers out of a job. Middleton says they'll be able to apply for other positions within the company, and will receive severance packages.

To make up the power loss, he adds Duke may increase its output at other plants or buy power on the open market.

Meanwhile, the Wabash Valley Power Association will keep its coal-gasification unit at the river station online.

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