EDWARDSPORT, IND. (WTHI) - The largest private construction project in the history of Indiana is complete.
Construction of Duke Energy's $3-billion coal-gasification power plant near Edwardsport in northern Knox County is now down to testing and tweaking.
Even though the plant is already producing some electricity it will still be several months before it goes into full operation.
The new Duke Coal Gasification Power Plant fills the landscape near Edwardsport.
At its height there were 3,000 people working there, putting it together.
Now the lots where the builders parked are nearly empty as the project begins its transition from construction to operation.
"It is a challenge to build something of this magnitude," said Duke Plant Manager Jack Stultz. "There's been a lot of hard work done by a lot of people to get to this point."
The power generators are now getting tested and producing electricity.
The side where the coal is converted to natural gas is still getting checked out.
The full project now is going through several months of testing and tweaking.
"A plant this size and this complex, there's a lot of testing," said Stultz. "It's all operated by computer so, you've got to make sure when you ask the computer to do something you get the right response in the field."
It has taken almost 4 years to convert what used to be farm fields into an ultra-modern power plant, and officials say it will be even more exciting when they flip the switch and get it going.
"When you flip that switch and the generators start to produce that's a very pleasing time," said Stultz.
That time is expected to arrive in December when the shake-out of the system is complete and the huge new facility is finally finished and on-line.
Duke officials say the plant has 129 employees, with plans to have 30-40 full time contract workers on the site.
They also estimate the plant will keep around 150 miners working to supply the coal for its operation.
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