Duke Energy’s coal-powered Wabash River Generating Station in Terre Haute, IN, shut down last week.
“Our air permits expire on Friday, so we could not burn after that,” station manager Mike Shryock said. “But we shut down our last unit last week.”
Duke Energy is closing power units 2, 3, 4 and 5 and has not made an official decision on power unit 6, which could end up converted to use natural gas. That decision will be revealed this year, Duke spokesman Lew Middleton said.
The retirement of the coal-fired power plant is part of a 2013 settlement with the Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Save the Valley and Valley Watch over issues with air permits at Duke’s Edwardsport power plant.
Duke had planned to retire the 1950s-vintage power units as a result of a new federal mercury rule.
At its peak, the power plant, situated on Bolton Road in West Terre Haute, employed 225 workers. As of Tuesday, the plant employed fewer than 50.
“Our goal is to support employees and provide them an opportunity to look for other positions in the company,” Middleton said.
“These job opportunities may require employees to relocate if they accept a position in another region. All affected employees were also offered an opportunity for severance benefits from the company.”
Rick Burger, district manager for Duke Energy, said the company will retain the 1,000-acre site, which contains an important power switching station. Additionally, the company will continue to pay taxes on the site and as long as buildings are standing, Burger said. The power plant, located in Sugar Creek Township, represents the largest assessed tax valuation in the township, Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi said.
Decommissioning work is now underway, and could take two or more years. The work will remove equipment and address environmental concerns, such as coal piles or fly ash areas. Once that work wraps up, then demolition will start up.
In 2006, Duke Energy sold Unit 1 at the power station to the Wabash Valley Power Association. That unit produced electricity using synthesis gas from an adjacent coal gasification plant co-owned by WVPA and SG Solutions. Lisa Richardson, spokeswoman for WVPA, said SG Solutions and a steam turbine will close by early May.
Wabash Valley Power will, however, operate a natural gas turbine that produces 180 megawatts of electrical power, Richardson said.
Duke Energy’s coal-fired Cayuga power plant, located about 35 miles from the Wabash River station, will remain online, as will a nearby natural gas, peak-power facility.