- Indianapolis Power & Light Co (IPL) will convert its aging Harding Street unit 7 power plant to a natural gas facility by 2016.
- Although the switch is expected to add a cost of about $1 to the average monthly bill for each of IPL’s 470,000 customers, environmentalists and customer advocates welcomed the move for its health and environmental benefits and the expected long term protection for ratepayers from the anticipated rise in coal-generated electricity prices.
- While acknowledging the longstanding efforts of environmentalists and political leaders to provoke the conversion of unit 7, IPL’s president said the decision came because new federal pollution regulations and expected federal greenhouse gas emissions regulations make natural gas the “least cost option” for the utility.
This move follows report after report from across the U.S. of coal plant closures and conversions to natural gas as the “least-cost option.”
In May, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission authorized IPL’s conversion of the Harding Street plant’s two other units from coal to natural gas but unit 7, the biggest of the three at 427 MW, was expected to continue burning coal until at least 2034.
The Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign said after this conversion by the city’s biggest industrial polluter, called for by more than 55 local groups, it will now focus on getting the plant’s coal ash cleaned up.