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Edwardsport Gasification Plant Could Begin Testing Next Week

Duke Energy's coal gasification plant rises above corn in Edwardsport.

Duke Energy’s coal gasification plant in Edwardsport is set to being testing its process within the next few days.

Duke Energy officials say they cannot predict the exact day the testing will occur, but say they have nearly all the factors in place to burn synthetic gas—the main component in the gasification process.

Duke Energy spokesman Lew Middleton says there are still some unknowns because gasification has never been done on this scale.

“It just takes a great deal of checking and double checking and triple checking to make sure everything is going to work as it’s designed to work, and that it will work safely and efficiently and do what we have designed it to do,” he says.

He says the plant is scheduled to be opened next year.

But Mike Mullett, an energy committee member for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, says the plant’s opening has already been delayed and the project is more than a billion dollars over budget. He says similar projects elsewhere have regularly lagged.

“In other projects around the world, this stage of the process has been particularly complicated, particularly problematic, and there have been some significant problems that have occurred which have occasioned significant further delays and additional costs,” he says.

Mullett says the next part of the process also presents some safety risks.

The gasification process creates at least two potentially flammable gases. But Duke Energy says none of the chemicals are stored at the facility, adding it will file a risk management plan to the Environmental Protection Agency within the next week.

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