By FRANK PHILLIPS
Duke Energy, the company that recently merged with Cinergy/PSI, the electric company in Brazil and many Indiana communities, is investing $2.5 million in clean coal research. The money will be spent over the next five years, to be given to the Indiana Center for Coal Technological Research at Purdue University, according to information from the company. Duke will give the center $500,000 a year.
The center, created in 2002 by the Indiana General assembly, supports research into technologies that can use Indiana coal in a way that is environmentally and economically sound.
It is not yet clear what impact the study will have on Clay County coal.
"The development of new coal technologies is a critical component in our state's economic engine," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Susan L. Macey. "Indiana will benefit greatly from Purdue's research -- both in the short-term and in generations to come."
The funds are part of a merger-related agreement reached in December 2005, with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the staff of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) and the PSI Industrial Group.
Indiana state regulators approved the agreement in March and Cinergy and Duke Energy completed their merger in April.
Duke customers in Indiana are also receiving $40 million in rate credits. Customers started receiving those credits in June.
"The combination of customer rate credits and a contribution to this worthy fund helps get our merger off to the right start," said Duke Energy Indiana President Kay Pashos. "Because of merger savings and benefits, we expect future customer rates to be about 3 percent lower than they would have been without the merger."