Duke, a subsidiary of Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy, said it is confident Edwardsport will generate electricity as planned once the plant is cleared for commercial take-off this fall.

A Duke official in April declined to say how much coal the plant is purchasing from Peabody, although he said Edwardsport is expected to need up to 1.9 million tons of coal annually. For now, Peabody is sending four coal trains a month from Bear Run to the power plant, although that number is expected to increase once the plant is operating commercially.

Bear Run began production in May 2010 after Peabody spent approximately $400 million to develop the mine in Sullivan County. Since initial startup, the mine has ramped up steadily. Peabody sold 7.7 million tons of Bear Run coal in 2012 and said the mine has the capacity to turn out about 8 million tons a year.

Bear Run produces coal from the Indiana Nos. 5, 5A, 6 and 7 seams. The coal is hauled from the pit by truck to the 1,600 tph prep plant for crushing, processing and blending before it is transported by train and truck to utility customers, including Duke.

The mine produces high-sulfur steam coal, with the sulfur content ranging from 3 to 5 lb.

According to Peabody, Bear Run has about 200 million tons of reserves. The mine employs 550 people and uses a combination of draglines, trucks and shovel, and dozers to uncover the coal.

Edwardsport originally was approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in late 2007 at an estimated cost of $1.95 billion. Because of cost-overruns, the final cost is projected to almost double, leading to criticism from environmentalists and consumer groups.

Duke, though, said Edwardsport is needed to keep the utility’s generation portfolio diversified. Duke plans to retire hundreds of megawatts of older coal-burning capacity in Indiana over the next few years to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency rules. A smaller, 160-mw coal plant at the Knox County site was retired about a year ago to make way for the new plant.