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Behind the Scenes with Greg Augspurger

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As a technical manager, I give a lot of tours at Gibson Station, and I always start by asking people to think about how they use electricity. Then I show them a pound of coal and list for them some of things that fuel can do. Most people don't realize that a pound of coal will run a TV for five hours or a lamp for 10 hours. But what really surprises them is to learn that a pound of coal will run their air conditioner for only 10 minutes.

Everybody who tours the site near Princeton, Ind., is amazed at the size and complexity of the plant. It's the nation's third-largest coal-fired power plant. The kids are impressed by the size and the noise. The adults are impressed by the cost and the complexity. Everybody is amazed by what is involved in making electricity.

When I started in this industry in 1983, many of the nation's coal plants were relatively new. Our focus was making the plants run as well as we possibly could. Fast forward 25 years and we are now operating all kinds of new technology that reduces our environmental footprint. In fact many plants have more money invested in their pollution control technology than in the original equipment. The operation is a lot more exacting and complex. The company has always been a leader in the operation and design of our power systems. Now, we are leaders in managing the balance between environmental stewardship and energy production.

I began my career at Central Illinois Public Service when Duke asked me to come for an interview. I recall it was the dead of winter in the Midwest when I visited them in Charlotte, North Carolina. When I left home the snow was so deep in the parking lots at the airport it was stacked up 20 feet high. But it was 70 degrees and sunny in North Carolina. Duke moved me around several of their plants over the 20 years I lived there. My roots were in the Midwest, though, so when I was asked to take a job at Gibson, I returned to the region.

At Gibson the group I manage provides engineering and technical support to the station so we get involved in just about all parts of the plant. My role is to make sure my team is focused on the right things at the right time. We work with other teams at the plant and together focus on maintenance, operations, engineering, environmental issues, safety, financial, major projects, upgrades and a host of other things that keep the plant running from day to day.

Running a power plant is not an easy job and demands a lot from us. The folks I work with at the plant will come in whenever they are needed and will always pitch in to help. It doesn't matter if it's 3 a.m. on July 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday, you can count on Duke people to jump in and do whatever is needed to help. We appreciate having the chance to work at one of the most important plants in the country and we know that what we do every day ripples out through the company and the state.

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