The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has granted Duke Energy permission to construct a technologically advanced clean coal power plant in Edwardsport, Indiana. This project will be the first commercial-scale coal gasification power plant to be built in the United States in the last 10 years. An average of 800 to 900 construction workers will be employed over a three-year period, with a peak work force of 2,000. Ongoing plant operations would employ approximately 100 people. However, before starting construction early next year, and to achieve its power production goal in early 2012, an air permit must be obtained from the Indiana department of Environmental Management.

The plant is expected to be a 630-megawatt facility using advanced integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology and will produce nearly four times as much power as the existing plant at Edwardsport, with much less environmental impact, including a 45 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per net-megawatt hour.

IGCC uses a coal gasification system to convert coal into a synthesis gas (syngas), which is then processed to remove sulphur, mercury and ash before being sent to a traditional combined cycle power plant. There is an ongoing study to review the success of IGCC technology in removing carbon dioxide from coal during the syngas conversion process to enable it to be stored or sequestered in underground geologic formations. Should the study be successful, carbon dioxide capture and sequestration equipment could be added to the plant to provide additional reductions in emissions.

Although the plant will cost approximately $2 billion, the cost will be offset by more than $460 million in local, state and federal tax incentives. The plant will also result in an average increase in electricity rates of approximately 16 percent to be phased in from 2008 through to 2012.