Employee dies in accident at Duke Energy facility in New Albany

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Duke Energy plans to close a 63-year-old coal-fired power plant in southern Indiana months earlier than had been expected.

The utility’s R. Gallagher power plant, which boasts twin smokestacks that have long towered over the Ohio River city of New Albany, was scheduled to be retired in 2022. But top company officials recently announced that the plant will close by June 1. 

The Gallagher station went online in 1958 in New Albany. A second unit began generating electricity in 1959, followed by two more units in 1960 and 1961 at the plant, located just north of Louisville, Kentucky.

Two units were retired in early 2012 after a federal jury ruled that illegal modifications had been made to two of the units, causing violations of the Clean Air Act. Pollution-control equipment was installed in the other two units, which burn low-sulfur coal to reduce emissions.

The Gallagher station operated at a limited capacity in recent years, and lower power demand during the pandemic has further reduced operations, said Duke Energy Indiana President Stan Pinegar and Cecil Gurganus, vice president of the company's Midwest Generation, in a joint statement. 

"We have been preparing for the station's retirement for a number of years and have been communicating with Gallagher employees," Pinegar and Gurganus said in the statement. "There are 24 remaining at the station now, but some of those individuals already have found new positions in the company."

Pinegar and Gurganus said the closure is not expected to disrupt service in the area, noting that the company’s other plants and power resources meet current needs. 

Activity at the site could still continue for several years, however, as the company dismantles the facility and closes on-site coal ash basins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.