Wabash River Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Wabash River Generating Station was a 972.7-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by Duke Energy Indiana near Terre Haute, Indiana.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Duke Energy Indiana
  • Parent Company: Duke Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 972.7 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 112.5 MW , Unit 2: 112.5 MW (1953), Unit 3: 123.2 MW (1954), Unit 4: 112.5 MW (1955), Unit 5: 125.0 MW (1956), Unit 6: 387.0 MW (1968)
  • Location: 450 Bolton Rd., Terre Haute, IN 47801
  • GPS Coordinates: 39.530583, -87.422611
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1 was retired in May 2016, Units 2 - 5 retired in April 2016, Unit 6 retired in December 2016[1]

Unit Retirements

On May 29, 2009, U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney ordered Duke Energy to shut down three units of the Wabash River Generating Station for violations of the federal Clean Air Act. In 2008, a jury found that Duke-owned Cinergy had modified the facilities without installing best-available pollution control technology. In his ruling, Judge McKinney cited increased sulfur dioxide emissions from the units and gave a deadline of September 30, 2009 for closing them. Duke's Chief Legal Officer Marc Manly said the company was disappointed with the court's decision to "accelerate the shutdown." The units, which supply 39 percent of the station's power, were slated to be taken off line in 2012.[2]

An appeals court overturned that order in 2010, allowing Duke Energy to restart the units.[3]

Units 2-5 were retired in April 2016,[4] and unit 1 (112.5 MW) in May 2016.[5]

Unit 1 retired in May 2016 as a Petroleum Coke fired unit as the Wabash Valley Power IGCC name, Unit 1A is still operating as a natural gas powered generator.

Duke decided against converting its unit 6 to run on gas, and retired it in December 2016. Wabash Valley Power Association will keep its gasification unit 1A (192 MW) at the river station online.[6]


Wabash River was built by Public Service Indiana, and ultimately acquired by Duke Energy. The plant's first six units were built in the 1950-50s.

Unit 1 and 1A

Unit 1 was retrofitted in 1995 as an IGCC plant.[7]

In December 2006, Duke Energy Indiana agreed to sell unit 1 of its Wabash River Power Station to the Wabash Valley Power Association (WVPA) for $110-120 million. The sale includes Unit 1’s 192-megawatt gas turbine and 112.5-megawatt steam turbine. Unit 1 produces electricity using synthesis gas from a coal gasification plant adjacent to Duke Energy’s Wabash River Station. When the synthesis gas is unavailable, the unit can also run on natural gas.[8]

Although units 1-6 of the power station were closed in 2016, Wabash Valley Power Association said it will keep its coal-gasification unit 1A at the river station online.[9]

IGCC plant

IGCC retrofit

The Wabash River Coal Gasification Repowering Project was built at the site of the Wabash plant, and was a retrofit of unit 1. The IGCC unit is known as Unit 1a. The IGCC plant was one of two demonstrations of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology in the United States. It was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in September of 1991 as a Demonstration Project for the Clean Coal Technology (CCT) Program. Construction began in July 1993, followed by operational startup in November 1995 and commercial operation in December 1999. Total cost of the project was $438 million; DOE provided $219 million (50%) of the total cost.[10]

Unit 1a switches between syngas and natural gas.[11] The U.S. EIA lists unit 1a as a natural gas-fired combustion turbine.[12]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 5,708,664 tons [13]
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 58,793 tons [14]
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 8,454 tons [15]
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 185 lb. [16]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Wabash River

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[17] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[18]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Wabash River Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 74 $540,000,000
Heart attacks 110 $12,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,200 $64,000
Hospital admissions 53 $1,200,000
Chronic bronchitis 45 $20,000,000
Asthma ER visits 77 $28,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011

Coal Waste Sites

Wabash River ranked 38th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[19] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[20]

Wabash River Generating Station ranked number 38 on the list, with 951,610 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[19]

Toxic Waste Data [21]

  • Arsenic Waste: 53,550 pounds
    • Air Release: 1,220 pounds
    • Water Release (Wabash River): 3,030 pounds
    • Land Release (Surface Impoundment): 49,300 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 75,349 pounds
    • Air Release: 787 pounds
    • Water Release (Wabash River): 162 pounds
    • Land Release (Surface Impoundment): 73,400 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: .3291 grams
    • Air Release: .3291 grams
  • Lead Waste: 75,621.7 pounds
    • Air Release: 1,557 pounds
    • Land Release (Surface Impoundment): 74,063 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 128,479 pounds
    • Air Release: 1,046 pounds
    • Water Release (Wabash River): 432 pounds
    • Land Release (Surface Impoundment): 127,000 pounds

Accidents and Negligence

  • February 13, 2007 [22]
    • A petroleum project began to pollute the Wabash River and it was traced back to a leak of turbine oil from one of the generation stations.
    • The EPA made PSI Energy sign a statement taking full responsibility for the leak.
    • The earliest assessments are that there was a pinhole leak in the tank coupled with a failure of the system to make note of such a leak and issue a warning.
  • February 15, 2007 [23]
    • Two workers were injured when they opened a mill door they thought was sealed and an intense puff of coal ash, dust, and hot air pushed them back.
    • One worker suffered scrapes, abrasions, and burns on his arm. Another received treatment for fractures around his eye from the door hitting him in the head.
  • April 28, 2008 [24]
    • Two workers were killed as they were tightening bolts on a gasification unit opening.
    • The workers were up nearly 150 feet in the air when the opening exploded outward. No one else was injured in the accident.
    • According to Wabash River Power, this is the first fatality to occur in the plant since it opened in 1995.

Litigation and Controversy

  • 1995-Present [25]
    • Wabash River Generating Facility is one of only two plants in the country that, as of the 2003 publication of the referenced article, had been fitted with IGCC (Integrated Combined Cycle Gasification Technology) with tradename E-Gas
    • While the Wabash plant has some of the highest CO2 emissions of any plant in the country, the SO2 emissions are 1/10th of the Clean Air Act standards, they have extremely low NOX emissions, and almost no particle emissions.

Articles and Resources


  1. "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory" eia.gov, 860m March 2020
  2. Andrew M. Harris, "Duke Energy Ordered to Shut Indiana Coal-Fired Units," Bloomberg, May 29, 2009.
  3. "Duke expects closing much of W. Ind. power plant" Chron.com, Sep. 16, 2011.
  4. Robert Walton, "A rough day for coal: Midwest utilities retire 2,000 MW," Utility Drive, April 18, 2016
  5. Sierra Club list of US coal plant retirements, Oct. 5, 2016
  6. "Duke Energy Shuts Down Wabash River Generating Station," indianapublicmedia, Apr 15, 2016
  7. "Coal-Fired Plants in the USA - Indiana," Industcards, accessed March 2016
  8. "Duke Energy Indiana To Sell Wabash River Station Unit #1," Duke, Dec 1, 2006
  9. "Duke Energy Shuts Down Wabash River Generating Station," indianapublicmedia, Apr 15, 2016
  10. "wabash," netl.doe.gov, accessed March 2016
  11. "Chapter 2.0. IGCC TECHNOLOGY AND OPERATING EXPERIENCE," from Rosenberg, William G., Dwight C. Alpern, and Michael R. Walker. “IGCC Technology and Operating Experience.” In Deploying IGCC in This Decade with 3Party Covenant Financing: Volume I. May 2005.
  12. EIA 860, 2019
  13. "Carbon Monitoring for Action: Wabash River Generating Station Data". Center for Global Democracy.
  14. "Criteria Air Pollutants: Wabash River Generating Station Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  15. "Criteria Air Pollutants: Wabash River Generating Station Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  16. Environmental Protection Agency. "Toxic Release Inventory: Wabash River Generating Station Data". Right to Know Network.
  17. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  18. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  19. 19.0 19.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  20. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  21. Environmental Protection Agency. "Toxic Release Inventory: Wabash River Generating Station Data". Right to Know Network.
  22. Crystal Garcia. "Source of Wabash Pollution Discovered". Terre Haute News.
  23. Sue Loughlin. "Small Mill Explosion Injures Two Duke Energy Employees". WCNC News-Charlotte.
  24. "SG Solutions Cited for Safety Violations". Tribune Star.
  25. "ConocoPhillips Acquires Proprietary Gasification Technology From Global Energy Inc". Power Engineering Online.

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