IPL announces plans to convert last coal plant to gas


August 15, 2014 -  Indianapolis Power & Light announced plans on Friday to convert its aging coal-fired Harding Street power plant entirely to natural gas by 2016 if approved by state regulators.  This announcement came just 3 days before the Indianapolis City-County Council vote on a resolution calling on IPL to shift away from burning coal in Marion county.

The 55 year old plant is located on the near southwest side and serves electricity to Marion County and southern portions of Carmel.  In May, IPL received approval from the IURC to convert the smaller units 5 and 6 at Harding Street from coal to natural gas. If the switch is approved for the 427 megawatt Unit 7, IPL’s fuel mix would shift from 79% coal in 2007 to 44% in 2017.


Coal-fired power plants are a leading source of soot and toxic pollution in Central Indiana’s air.  According to the American Lung Association, the Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie metro area ranks 16th in the nation in particulate pollution, or soot, which can contribute to severe asthma attacks, lung damage, heart problems, increased hospitalizations and even premature death. In 2012, the Harding Street plant released more than 1.6 million pounds of toxic pollution and accounted for about 88 percent of all of Marion County’s toxic industrial emissions, according to EPA data.

"Natural gas is an interim fuel but this is a huge step forward that will dramatically improve our air quality," said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard.  "The mercury and other levels are among some of the worst in the nation; Indy is the largest city in the US still using a coal plant in an urbanized area....and it blows towards Carmel."

The decision to stop burning coal at Harding Street is good news for public health in our region. It's also good news for our climate. The Harding Street coal-fired power plant releases over 3 million tons of climate pollution every year. The shift from bituminous coal to natural gas will reduce carbon emissions by 43%.

IPL officials also said IPL_Harding_Street_Coal_Plant_coal_ash_pondsthe Harding Street coal ash ponds will be closed. The unlined lagoons pose a threat to groundwater contamination.

According to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign,the retirement of the Harding Street unit 7 boiler would be the 500th unit to be retired since 2010.

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