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Ind. regulators approve upgrades at Duke Energy hydro plant

Duke Energy Indiana LLC has received state regulatory approval to move forward with planned upgrades at its 45-MW Markland hydro plant.

The Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary said in March that it planned to modernize and upgrade three hydroelectric turbines and related equipment at the Markland facility near Florence, Ind., along the Ohio River. The run-of-river turbines have been operating since 1967.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the project on Dec. 14 after Duke Energy Indiana reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

"We are pleased with the commission's decision that allows us to keep the Markland Hydro Station operating for many more years," Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd said in a news release. "The low-cost, carbon-free power generated at Markland is an important part of our diversified portfolio of generation sources."

Duke Energy Indiana said the project, which will be launched in 2017, is expected to take about four years and cost approximately $152 million. Markland's energy output will increase by about 10% after the project is complete, the company said.