Hoosier Energy will be retiring its 1,070 MW Merom coal-fired power plant in 2023, the utility said Tuesday.
The announcement follows the company's Board of Directors approval of its long-term energy resource plan, which includes a combination of wind, solar, natural gas and storage, and is expected to save its 18 electric cooperative members $700 million over the next 20 years. The company will file its full plan in November and says it did not previously have a set retirement date for the coal plant.
- Last week, an Indiana legislator proposed a bill that would limit utilities' ability to retire coal-fired power, instead requiring regulatory approval following a directive from the federal government or evidence of public necessity. It is not yet clear how the bill may impact retirements, a Hoosier spokesperson told Utility Dive.
The majority of Indiana's power comes from coal, but utilities are increasingly turning to generation portfolios made up of natural gas, wind and solar as the prices of those resources become more competitive.
Pro-coal groups have expressed frustration over the rapid retirements, encouraging the state to be more cautious in its planned retirements.
"We think the Indiana legislature and the state's electricity consumers should be concerned about coal retirements for a number of reasons, including the loss of fuel-secure coal-fired power plants that support grid reliability and resilience," President and CEO of coal group America's Power Michelle Bloodworth, who testified in front of the state's energy task force in October, told Utility Dive in an email last week.
But renewable energy groups called the retirement another victory in a state that has seen interest in renewables and natural gas from other traditionally coal-heavy utilities, including the Northern Indiana Public Service Company and Vectren.
"This is the direction that these businesses that are making these decisions want to go," Wendy Bredhold, Sierra Club senior Beyond Coal campaign representative for Indiana and Kentucky, told Utility Dive. "Instead of trying to figure out how to slow down the transition away from coal, responsible legislators should be thinking about how to support the communities whose economies are impacted by the retirement of these coal plants."
The Merom Generating Station currently employs 185 employees and has been online since 1982. The plant makes up the majority of the Indiana-based generation and transmission company's 1,900 MW of capacity while natural gas makes up 36% and renewables make up 6%.
"We sincerely value our dedicated employees and will help those impacted during this transition by working with the [International Brotherhood of Electric Workers] to offer assistance such as retraining, reassignment and professional outplacement, along with retirement options," Hoosier President and CEO Donna Walker said in a statement.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers.