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Behind the Scenes with Jack Stultz

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I grew up in Sullivan, Ind., 30 miles away from Duke Energy’s new Edwardsport plant, which I manage today. Back then, I never imagined myself in my current job. My background is engineering; I started as a co-op student in 1976 at our company’s Cayuga Station. I was an "electrician's helper" and eventually got a full-time job here. I moved through various positions, but always have worked in western and southern Indiana. In 1995 I began managing our company’s part of the Wabash River Repowering Project in West Terre Haute. It used a coal gasification process that operates on a similar technology to our Edwardsport facility.

Over my more than 30-year career environmental regulations have driven the most change. We’ve already invested $2.8 billion to reduce emissions at our Indiana power plants, and we’ve lowered our air emissions significantly. Now we’re beginning a new phase of environmental compliance that focuses on complying with federal mercury rules.

Knowing the impact of ever-changing environmental rules is important to understanding why we built Edwardsport Generating Station. When the plant comes online early next year, it will be one of the world’s cleanest, coal-fired power plants. It uses advanced technology to convert coal to gas, strip out the pollutants, and then burn that cleaner gas to produce electricity. It helps modernize our Indiana system where the average age of our coal-fired plants is 45 years. And its efficiency means it will be the first major unit we use on our system whenever power is needed.

Importantly, Edwardsport enables us to continue using a homegrown, Indiana resource, coal. The vast majority of our state’s power comes from that fuel. The trouble is that much of Hoosier coal doesn’t meet environmental standards, and Indiana imports a lot of what it uses. Those are jobs and dollars going out-of-state for a product that’s plentiful here. Edwardsport is a way to use vast reserves of a domestic resource in an environmentally conscientious manner.

On Friday afternoons I often walk the plant site and I’m always amazed at how much work has gone into this facility. The plant’s footprint is more than 200 acres, and during peak construction there were about 3,500 construction workers and other professionals working on site. In this small rural community that meant every apartment was rented, abandoned houses were remodeled, restaurants were packed, and you waited in line at the gas station. The community impact has been huge, and we’ve made a lot of good friends here. I’m looking forward to moving the plant from construction to operating and serving Hoosiers for decades to come.

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