PLAINFIELD, IND. - Now that construction of Duke Energy's Edwardsport power plant is virtually complete, extensive testing is under way to prepare for commercial operations next year.
The plant has successfully produced electricity using natural gas, and the next phase is testing the coal-gasification equipment. The first coal-gasification test may occur as early as this week.
When the coal is converted into a synthetic gas, it is sent to the gas turbines where it is burned to make electricity. However, if the synthetic gas does not meet certain standards, it is diverted to the gas flare tower on the plant property, where it is ignited and burned safely. The gas flare also is used during each start-up and shut-down of the plant.
This gas flare will be bright and somewhat loud, and it will be especially noticeable at night. The flare will normally last only as long as it takes to shut down the coal gasification process, usually less than 30 minutes.
"I want to emphasize that whenever the gas flare is activated, it does not indicate any emergency at the plant," said Edwardsport Plant Manager Jack Stultz. "It is a normal part of plant operations. Because the gas flare may need to be activated quickly, we won't be able to provide advance notice to local residents. We appreciate everyone's understanding and patience."
There will be gas flare events during the testing and start-up process in the next several months. The plant will also use the flare during regular commercial service, but it should not be as frequent as during testing and startup.
There also was a test of the emergency notification system for residents near the plant this week. The outbound calling system is for use in the event of county emergencies, including any that might occur at the plant. To enroll additional phone numbers, including cell phone contacts, into the calling database, Knox County residents should go online to www.knoxcounty.in.gov and Daviess County residents can register at www.washingtonin.us.
The Edwardsport plant uses state-of-the-art technology to gasify coal, strip out pollutants, and then burn that cleaner gas to produce electricity.
It is the first major new coal-fired power plant built in Indiana in more than two decades and is a key part of the effort to modernize the state's aging electric system. It offers a way to produce cleaner energy and comply with new and pending federal environmental regulations while still using an abundant local resource, coal.
Duke Energy Indiana's operations provide approximately 6,800 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 790,000 customers, making it the state's largest electric supplier.