2017 Year In Review
The Value of
Prairie State. Responsibility. Safety. Sustainability.
Navigating the highs and lows of the energy industry requires having a firm foundation of core values. At Prairie State, we know who we are—and exactly what we stand for.
President & CEO
Common Values: A Letter from Our CEO
It is an old truism that good companies are built by good people. But what is often overlooked is the importance of a common set of core values to drive those good people to be great employees. In 2017, through collaboration with our Prairie State team, we established a fresh set of values that better reflect our company’s culture, and that will help drive our campus from good to great.
Safety, Teamwork, Accountability, and Sustainability—our values tell the rest of the world who we are as an organization. It is not enough to simply post these values on the walls; rather, we must use them as a roadmap towards our destination. For us, that destination is realizing our vision of becoming the best coal mine and coal-fired power plant in the United States. Competition in the energy industry is inevitable, and while processes can be duplicated, I firmly believe that culture cannot. A strong set of core values and an employee culture rooted in those beliefs will produce both moral and economic benefits.
In 2017, we saw success in both areas. Our campus sustainability program achieved its highest level of CO2 offsets to date, and we maintained 100 percent compliance with all permitted emission limits. Prairie State’s power plant achieved the lowest Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) since commercial operations, and also set a new record for highest monthly Equivalent Availability Factor (EAF). Our mine achieved the highest level of coal production since campus inception, and reduced the number of accidents by 25 percent from 2016.
With our values as the guiding principles for decision-making and strategic planning, Prairie State is well positioned to achieve our long-term vision while accomplishing our mission of providing value to our owners and the millions of families they serve.
Don Gaston, President & Chief Executive Officer
Mission + Vision + Values
To provide value to our owners and the millions of families they serve through the safe and sustainable production of electric power.
Prairie State will be the best coal mine and coal-fired power plant in the United States.
"Shared Values Drive Good People To Be Great Employees."
The Value of Achievement
It’s not enough to say we want to provide value—at Prairie State, we’ve got the numbers to back it up.
Here are a few of our achievement highlights from 2017:
Record Low Outage Rate
Power plant achieved its lowest annual Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) since commercial operations at just 9.9%.
Prairie State concluded 2017 in compliance with all permitted emission limits.
301,790 Tons of Carbon Offsets
Sustainability program achieved highest CO2 offsets since inception.
Record High Availability
Power plant set a new record for highest monthly Equivalent Availability Factor (EAF) at 99.3%.
25% Improvement in Safety
Mine team completed seven modules of the CORESafety Program, which had a direct and measurable impact on reducing the number of accidents by 25% from 2016 to 2017.
6.2 Million Tons Produced
The mine achieved the highest level of coal production since campus inception.
The Value of Safety
At Prairie State, we start each day with safety in mind. It’s why our campus-wide motto is: “Safety is the responsibility of every person, at every level, every day.” And we don’t just pay lip service to the value of safety. We take action, including the implementation of industry-leading practices and procedures that ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees and contractors.
In 2017, both the power plant and the mine initiated multi-year safety initiatives with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Mining Association (NMA). The power plant team began working towards the goal of achieving “star site” certification under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The VPP recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintained injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their industries.
How does VPP work? Under the program, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The system is focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement.
As a part of the power plant’s strategy for improving safety and achieving “star site status,” a behavioral-based safety process called STORM—Safety Through Observation, Reliance, and Mindset—was implemented. Through the STORM process, we reviewed two years of incident reports and extracted all behaviors that contributed to those incidents, in order to develop a critical behavior index. STORM has laid the foundation for cultural and behavioral change in the way tasks are completed, and is designed to help prevent future incidents from occurring.
The mine team has a longstanding relationship with the NMA, but in 2017 began a partnership to achieve certification under their CORESafety program. CORESafety is a partnership led by the members of the NMA, and is an approach to mining safety and health that aims to prevent accidents before they happen using a management system that involves leadership, management, and assurance.
The CORESafety system has been customized to mining and is based on successful health and safety management systems used in other industries that have successfully improved their health and safety performance. The mine team completed objectives supporting the seven modules of CORESafety program requirements, which had a direct and measurable impact on reducing the number of accidents by 25% from 2016 to 2017.
We’re proud of what we’ve achieved this year at the power plant and the mine. Through these initiatives, Prairie State is proving that we truly value safety—for every person, at every level, every day.
"It is not enough to simply post these values on the walls; rather we must use them as a roadmap towards our destination."
The Value of Sustainability
Sustainability has quickly become a buzzword in the business community, but at Prairie State it means so much more. We hold it as a core value that informs our vision and shapes our decisions, looking beyond the events of today to ensure we’re providing long-term value to the member-owners we serve. We accomplish this through a commitment to sustainable business practices.
Beneficial Reuse and Carbon Reduction
The beneficial reuse of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) such as gypsum, fly ash, and bottom ash has increased steadily over the past 30 years in the energy industry. CCRs were originally treated as waste and disposed of in landfills or impoundments. Since 2015, Prairie State has continued to increase the beneficial reuse of its CCRs, effectively offsetting thousands of tons of CO₂ while also providing economic benefit to our owners. In 2017, Prairie State achieved its best results for beneficial reuse and CO₂ offsets. Prairie State is committed to reducing its overall emissions profile and carbon footprint.
INCREASE IN CO₂ OFFSETS IN 2017 COMPARED TO 2016
Fly Ash Beneficial Use
CO₂ Absorption -
CO₂ Absorption -
Mine Waste to
Total CO₂ Offsets
Recycling is another tool Prairie State uses to ensure our energy campus is sustainable. While not every byproduct can be reused, recycling offers another avenue to reduce our waste and protect our environment.
Used Oil Recycling
Single Stream Recycling
The Value of Teamwork and Accountability
In order for Prairie State to achieve its vision of being the best coal mine and coal-fired power plant in the country, we have to live our values. As a truly unique energy campus, it takes teamwork and accountability in all areas of our business to get there.
Campus Operations Review
With a renewed focus on our company’s values, teamwork and accountability took center stage in 2017. We challenged the status quo, worked together, and pushed ourselves for continuous improvement.
After a challenging start to the year, the mine successfully implemented and executed a recovery plan, which addressed long-term coal quality initiatives and productivity improvements.
Additionally, the mine management team worked with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to obtain regulatory approval of an extended room panel mining concept. This concept has proven benefits for improving productivity, lowering operating cost, and reducing capital expenditures.
The mine and power plant continued to work collaboratively on improving operations, and in 2017 developed a plan to install and operate a state-of-the-art coal analyzer system. This innovative system provides real-time data to our operators, providing a consistent feed of quality fuel and thereby minimizing derates or potential forced outages at the power plant.
Prairie State’s power plant continued to make operational improvements, and finished 2017 with the lowest annual Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) in its history at 9.9%. New records for the highest monthly Equivalent Availability Factor (EAF)—99.3%—and Net Capacity Factor (NCF)—98.6% —were set in November. Vast improvements to our comprehensive planning and execution of planned maintenance outages were evident in 2017 and led to positive results.
"Processes can be duplicated.
Our culture cannot."
The Value of Cooperation: Our Owners
Our energy campus provides base-load electricity to not-for-profit municipalities and rural electric cooperatives from across the Midwest. Without these nine public power ownership groups, Prairie State could not exist. But by working collaboratively toward our common goal, it all adds up to something pretty special. Working together also means we can provide members with better service and more value.
Across 8 States
The Value of Leadership
Putting our values into action starts with good leadership. At Prairie State, we’re fortunate to be led by a leadership team and board of directors that embraces our company values as the means by which we make our mission and vision a reality. Meet the men and women who led Prairie State in 2017.