Enviro-lawsuit forces five Indiana coal plants to shut down

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The “war on coal” has five new casualties.

A lawsuit brought by environmental groups has forced the shutdown of five Indiana coal-fired power plants by 2018, totalling 668 megawatts of power.

Duke Energy announced that it would retire five coal plants as part of a settlement reached with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in a dispute over a clean air permit Duke was issued by the state of Indiana for its new coal-gasification plant in the southwestern part of the state. The five plants will be retired by 2018.

These coal retirements add to the more than 50,000 megawatts of coal-fired power that has been shut down or slated for retirement since January 2010, according to the Sierra Club.

“While today’s settlement is a step in the right direction, more must be done to ensure that Hoosier families are protected from rising energy bills and the enormous health threats posed by Indiana’s reliance on coal-fired power plants,” said Jodi Perras with the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign.

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have been targeting coal plants nationwide for retirement, which they say contribute to global warming and cause health problems.

As part of the settlement, Duke Energy also agreed to create a feed-in tariff program to purchase at least 30 megawatts of solar power from Indiana customers or buy or install 15 megawatts of green power capacity. A feed-in tariff allows customers to sell back home-generated solar power to electric utilities.

“We’re glad to resolve these issues. Our new, cleaner Edwardsport plant modernizes our fleet and enables us to retire older, coal-fired generation,” said Doug Esamann, president of Duke Energy Indiana. “The new plant replaces the old Edwardsport units, which date back to the 1940s and 1950s and were retired in 2011. In addition, we retired two older units at our southern Indiana Gallagher plant in 2012.”

Coal-fired power provided 83 percent of the Indiana’s electricity in 2011, and the state was ranked seventh among U.S. coal producing states in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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