Don Gaston

GET ENERGIZED: A Message from Our CEO

Prairie State’s mission is to provide value to our owners and the millions of families they serve through the safe and sustainable production of electric power. So, in a literal sense, Prairie State energizes the homes and businesses of our member communities with electricity—which seems simple when you think about it.

We often take for granted how our stable source of energy in this country is produced; how so many people and processes are responsible for that easy flip of the light switch. Our team at Prairie State is proud to be part of that process.

In 2018, we worked collectively to energize our part of the grid for our members in a safe and sustainable way. But our employees also worked together across the campus to energize our processes, our culture, and the communities that surround us. We’re enthusiastic about the future of our campus, and as you’ll see in this report, it’s for a good reason: 2018 was a year full of accomplishments for the Prairie State team.

This is a transformational time for the energy industry, both at the state and federal level. As one of the newest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the country, we’re positioned for many more years of success—and we’re energized now more than ever.

Don Gaston, President & Chief Executive Officer

Read More

2018: The Highlights


We achieved our lowest-ever annual Equivalent Forced Outage Rate.


Our CO2 offsets were the highest since our inception and were 22% greater than in 2017.


Our Equivalent Availability Factor was the highest in Prairie State history.

Our mine produced more coal this year than ever before—6.3 million tons. That's 7.3 tons per underground man-hour.


IT Infrastructure availability.


reduction in lost-time incidents.

We generated


—a new record for us.

What We Stand For

Our Mission

To provide value to our owners and the millions of families they serve through the safe and sustainable production of electric power.

Our Vision

Prairie State will be the best coal mine and coal-fired power plant in the United States.

Our Values

Safety, Teamwork, Accountability, Sustainability

A Current Of Safety

Our Employee-Driven Teams

Safety is the responsibility of every person, at every level, every day.

At the heart of our campus safety programs are our employees. Both our mine and power plant have employee-driven safety teams to help us maintain continuous improvement of our safety processes. We believe that when you take a group of talented people and create a team where they can merge their talents, a remarkable amount of energy and creativity is released into the overall employee culture. Let’s meet the teams.

Increase In Safety Observations

In 2018, we increased our total number of safety observations across the campus by 40%, which has been key to the success of our overall safety program. Frequent observations allow our employees to work together to gather data about work practices and resolve issues before they become risks.

Reduction in Lost-Time Accidents

With safety as our core value, this huge improvement in safety performance is something we’re all very proud of. In 2018, our employees at both the power plant and the mine brought new energy to improving our safety culture, as well as to the programs and processes that have led to these results. Not only was our incident rate reduced, but so was the severity level.


Developed to help implement and facilitate the modules of the CORESafety system at Prairie State’s Lively Grove Mine, this team has the mission of creating innovative safety solutions for continuous improvements. They also focus on cultural and procedural safety improvements for the underground workforce, and on developing relationships with other CORESafety-certified companies.


The mine’s Employee Safety and Health Advisory Group (ESHAG) performs inspections and maintenance of underground emergency supplies and emergency transport vehicles. The team regularly meets with employees and focuses on interactions to ensure jobs are performed safely. This group also reviews all incident and near-miss reports, as well as root-cause analysis for the mine team.

Power Plant Safety Committee

This cross-sectional committee has employee representatives from all departments, and the maintenance and operations managers are attendant co-sponsors. It serves the important role of an advisory body to senior management on health and safety issues. Their goal is to promote a culture and environment that will effectively identify and manage risks and hazards, making sure every worker goes home safely.

Storm Team

The power plant’s Safety Through Observation, Reliability, and Mindset (STORM) team consists of eight members from various departments. The purpose of STORM is to reduce the number and severity of injuries at the power plant by generating and empowering a safety-conscious workforce through confidentiality, observation, feedback, education, and coaching of employees to better understand safety.

VPP Team

We developed the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) team to define, facilitate, record, and execute all aspects of a “best in class” Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) VPP Star Site safety and health management system. The VPP team does this with specific measures, actions, and plant-wide ownership that results in lasting, effective safety processes.

Executive Safety Council

The Executive Safety Council provides overall governance of the power plant’s safety strategy and helps us achieve key safety metrics. They focus on understanding any exposures creating risks for team members so they can ensure the successful implementation of safety policies or initiatives.


To achieve our vision of becoming the best coal mine and coal-fired power plant in the country, we have to first understand the highest standards of our industry. We are constantly benchmarking ourselves against industry peers, and through this comparison, we’ve found the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and the National Mining Association’s (NMA) CORESafety system are industry best practices for safety processes.

In December 2018, NMA recognized Prairie State’s Lively Grove Mine for receiving independent certification under its CORESafety system. Prairie State joins eight other companies that have had operations independently certified under NMA’s signature safety initiative. The framework of the system is designed to go beyond what is required by regulations, focusing on continuous improvement.

The power plant began its journey towards VPP Star certification in 2017, and since then our team has worked together to improve plant safety through a multi-tiered approach. Throughout 2018, our team has laid the groundwork for submitting their application to OSHA in 2019. They made connections with other Star-certified facilities to leverage their knowledge, and they made needed improvements to meet OSHA’s Star standards.

Read More

Energized For Success

7.3% EFOR
82.7% EAF

Outage Planning and Execution

All power plants undergo routine maintenance outages, but it’s the planning and execution of those outages that dictates future operational success. Since inception, Prairie State has operated on an annual outage interval, but in 2018 we performed additional work during our fall maintenance outage on Unit 2 and spring maintenance outage on Unit 1. This will allow our power plant to extend future planned outage intervals to 18 months.

5.8% Increase in Mine Productivity

As the power plant’s availability improves, the mine has had to seek productivity improvements to meet an increasing demand for coal production. To that end, mine employees formed teams in 2018 to seek creative ways to improve productivity. These efforts led to marked improvements across all areas of the underground mine, and an overall increase of 5.8% in productivity.

Highest Annual Generation

In 2018, our power plant produced 11,532,418 net MWhs, the highest in Prairie State history. This annual generation exceeded the annual budget by more than 149,000 MWhs, which is equivalent to the one-week generation of a unit.

Highest EAF and Lowest Annual EFOR

Equivalent Availability Factor (EAF) and Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) are directly correlated. We want EAF numbers to be high and EFOR numbers to be low, and in 2018, Prairie State’s power plant had the highest EAF and the lowest annual EFOR in campus history.

Highest Annual Tons of Coal Production

In 2018, the Lively Grove mine produced the highest annual tonnage in campus history: 6.3 million tons. It took a lot of teamwork, coordination, and strategic planning to achieve this budgeted target, but our mine team rose to the challenge.

The Power of Sustainability

As one of our core values, sustainability is at the forefront of our business strategy, and we want to ensure we’re providing long-term value to our member-owners and communities. We’ve developed programs that energize our ability to reduce our environmental impact, which we believe is an important part of our social responsibility.

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. 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 2018, Prairie State achieved its best results for beneficial reuse and CO2 offsets. We saw a 22% increase in CO2 offsets compared to 2017.

Beneficial Reuse Products - 2018

65,487 tons
393,935 tons
6,445 tons

CO2 Offsets - 2018

573 co2 tons
365,177 co2 tons
2 co2 tons
1,251 co2 tons
1,575 co2 tons
368,578 co2 tons

Campus Recycling

Our team knows that recycling is a great way to help our natural environment thrive while being a socially responsible organization. To do our part, we recycled nearly 135,000 lbs of materials in 2018, along with over 14,000 gallons of used oil.

Recycling - 2018

127,212 lbs
27 lbs
4,982 lbs
1,168 lbs
14,772 gal

Community Impact

Prairie State and its employees have always invested in the surrounding communities through local partnerships with not-for-profit organizations. We encourage our employees to lead by example, and we believe our sustainability program should include community service. A few stats from 2018 include:


371 units of blood donated, saving up to 1,113 lives.


Over $1,875 collected to support the Marissa Food Pantry and Combatting Hunger on Weekends (CHOW) program


Clothing, toys, and other necessities donated to more than 140 local children through nine organizations.


Junior Achievement program delivered to 262 elementary school students.


Economic development, environmental stewardship, and youth program support for 75 local nonprofit organizations.

Stakeholder Outreach

The energy industry continues to garner a lot of attention from legislators and regulatory agencies at both the state and federal level. Prairie State works alongside its public power owners to raise awareness about our unique energy campus with key stakeholders.

In 2018, we continued efforts to build broad support for Prairie State at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure the longevity of our campus operations. We did this with the support of industry trade associations, and through lobbying and improving our focus on social media. This multi-level outreach and stakeholder collaboration is particularly important as proposals for energy policy are considered in our state and nation’s capitals.

A few key accomplishments:
  • 15% increase in positive impressions across social media platforms
  • 32% increase in Facebook and LinkedIn followers
  • Hosted campus tours for 13 external stakeholder groups
  • Filed official comments with the U.S. EPA on the pro posed Affordable Clean Energy Plan

Enlightened Ownership

Our energy campus provides baseload electricity to not-for-profit municipalities and rural electric cooperatives from across the Midwest. Our nine public power owners serve more than 2.5 million families and businesses across nine states.

Energized Leadership

Don Gaston

President & CEO

Randy Short

Chief Operating Officer

Ken Pollmann

Senior Vice President of Generation

Leah Bennett

Vice President of Finance

Helen Gallagher

General Counsel

Alyssa Harre

Director of Public Relations & Government Affairs

James Andrew

Director of Environmental Services

Mike Slade

Director of Procurement, Security & Facilities

Rita Bauman

Director of Human Resources

Tom Schmale

Corporate Controller

Paul Davis

Senior Manager of Information Technology

Mike Yusko

Corporate Safety Manager

Board of Directors

Marc Gerken

President & CEO,
American Municipal Power

Kevin Gaden

President & CEO,
Illinois Municipal Electric Agency

Raj Rao

President & CEO,
Indiana Municipal Power Agency

Duncan Kincheloe

President & General Manager,
Missouri Public Utility Alliance

Eric Hobbie

President & CEO,
Prairie Power, Inc.
PSEC Chair

Don Gulley

President & CEO,
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative

Dave Carroll

Paducah Power General Manager,
Kentucky Municipal Power Agency
PSEC Treasurer

Hal Wright

City of Geneva Superintendent of Electrical Services,
Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency
PSEC Vice Chair

Brian Fitzgerald

Executive Vice President,
Engineering & Operations
Wabash Valley Power Association

Alternate Representatives

Pam Sullivan

Executive Vice President of Power Supply & Generation,
American Municipal Power

Bob Childers

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer,
Illinois Municipal Electric Agency

Jack Alvey

Vice President of Generation,
Indiana Municipal Power Agency,
PSEC Secretary

John Grotzinger

Chief Operations Officer and Executive Director of Engineering,
Missouri Public Utility Alliance

Dick Chapman

Senior Vice President of Engineering & Operations,
Prairie Power, Inc.

Todd Gallenbach

Power Production Manager,
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative

Kevin Kizzee

General Manager Princeton Electric Plant Board,
Kentucky Municipal Power Agency

Gary Holm

City of Batavia Director of Public Works,
Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency

Jay Bartlett

President & CEO,
Wabash Valley Power Association

Download a PDF of the report