Using "advanced technology," Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has begun commercial operations of its new 618-megawatt coal gasification plant in Knox County, Ind., the company announced today.

The new plant will gasify coal while removing pollutants to burn cleaner gas, which in turn will produce electricity, making it "one of the world's cleanest coal-fired power generating facilities," according Duke Energy.

The new facility "replaces about 500 megawatts of older coal-fired generation that we recently retired or expect to retire soon due to new EPA regulations," said Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann. The new plant will support an estimated 170 mining jobs to produce the 1.7 million to 1.9 million tons of coal used annually, in addition to the approximately 140 full-time employees needed to run the station.

Utilizing the new technology, the Edwardsport facility will produce 10 times as much power as the old plant, while generating approximately 70% less harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulates combined, the company said. Additional improvements, according to Duke Energy, include increasing efficiency and output by using excess steam to power a second turbine, generating reusable byproducts, and using less water than conventional plants.

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