Citrus County fifth graders uncover the mystery of electricity through hands-on activities

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CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Power is a mystery. You can’t see it; you can’t touch it. But when you flip a light switch, you expect the room to illuminate.

To uncover the mystery of electricity, Duke Energy’s Barbara Martinuzzi had a bright idea – to invite Citrus County fifth graders to the Crystal River Energy Complex and show them how Duke Energy generates power for your life.

“Fifth graders learn about different types of energy in their science classes,” said Martinuzzi, an executive assistant who supports coal-fired and natural gas plants in Florida and lives in Citrus County. “So we designed a field trip program to supplement that curriculum and get the students more interested in science, technology, engineering and math.”

“It all connects to the standards of what they’re learning,” said Scott Hebert, Citrus County’s elementary education director. “Coming here is an opportunity for (the students) to see that it’s real. It’s not just something they read in a text book.”

The pilot program launched in September 2015. So far, the energy complex has hosted more than 500 fifth graders, including Josie M., a student at Homosassa Elementary School.

“I find a lot of science stuff exciting, especially when it’s hands on, and you get to see what they’re actually doing every day,” she said. Josie’s biggest surprise? Learning what’s billowing from the 601-foot tall pollution-control stack and two cooling towers. “It’s not pollution; it’s actually water vapor,” she exclaimed.

Duke Energy is organizing and sponsoring the field trips, including $12,000 provided to the Citrus County Education Foundation to bus the children to the complex. “Supporting education programs that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math is a critical focus for us,” said Dorothy Pernu, a Duke Energy community relations manager. “We strongly believe bright futures begin in the classroom and every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.”

“We care about the people in our community,” Martinuzzi added. “They are our friends, our neighbors, our relatives. We have a connection to them. We have a lot of good things we’re doing out here, and we want to share that message with students, parents and educators.”

For more information about the pilot program, click fifth grade field trips. Photos are also available.

Photo opportunity


Fifth grade class from Central Ridge Elementary School (20-25 students) and Duke Energy employees


Duke Energy’s fifth grade field trip program


Jan. 26, 2016 | 10 a.m.


Crystal River Energy Complex | 15760 W. Power Line St., Crystal River


To meet security rules at the complex, pre-registration is required. Please RSVP to Heather Danenhower by 3 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2016.


Heather Danenhower | Office: 352.563.4700 | Cell: 352.497.4534 |

About the Crystal River Energy Complex

The Crystal River Energy Complex is home to four coal-fired units, the decommissioning Crystal River Nuclear Plant, a Mariculture Center (fish hatchery) and the new combined-cycle natural gas plant construction project. The complex is 5,100 acres and represents the largest energy complex on the Duke Energy Florida system. The complex employs more than 600 people, not including contractors and security officers.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 23 million people. Its Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at

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