Councilors to IPL: Eliminate coal in county by 2020

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Two City-County Council members want Indianapolis Power & Light Co. to stop burning coal in Marion County by 2020 and shift more attention to renewable energy.

Councilors Zach Adamson, at-large, and William “Duke” Oliver, 10th District, on Monday evening introduced a resolution calling on IPL to work with the council and the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability to shift away from coal.

The resolution takes aim at the electric utility’s Harding Street plant, where the largest boiler is expected to keep burning coal until at least 2034. The councilors, both Democrats, noted that IPL is converting two smaller units at the plant to natural gas.

“Indianapolis is a great city that deserves a bright future – one that includes clean air and water, and more clean, renewable energy,” Adamson said in a prepared statement. “Yet, for far too long, Indianapolis Power & Light’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant has threatened our community with toxic pollution.”

Although IPL plans to keep burning coal at the 427-megawatt generator, the company is moving forward with about $50 million in state-approved plans to upgrade the boiler, said IPL spokeswoman Brandi Davis-Handy. The pollution controls should reduce mercury emissions by 85 percent, the company predicts.

The Harding Street project is part of more than $1 billion in total work that IPL plans to help it meet upcoming environmental regulations. The changes include a mix of moving some facilities to natural gas and upgrading existing coal units. Rates will go up 2 percent to 3 percent to cover the costs of the work.

The utility chose the projects because they were the “lowest-cost options for customers,” Davis-Handy said.

Some environmental groups would rather see a complete shutdown of the plant.

Adamson and Oliver, on Monday, pressed IPL to work more closely with the council and sustainability office to develop a plan that relies more on energy-efficiency and conservation.

Power companies in all other major Midwestern cities have either stopped burning coal or implemented plans to shift away from it, they said.

“When we see something wrong in our community, we need to speak up for what’s right,” Oliver said. “… My constituents in Center Township know about coal pollution. The prevailing winds in Indianapolis carry air pollution from Harding Street right into the neighborhoods I represent.

“Right now, IPL plans to continue burning coal at Harding Street until 2034. That’s 20 more years of burning coal and polluting our community. Our resolution calls on IPL to develop a better plan that doesn’t harm the health of Indianapolis residents and cleans up our air and protects our water.”

IPL customers also have a chance on Friday to weigh in on the utility’s plans, Davis-Handy noted. The company will have a public meeting from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Barnes and Thornburg LLP’s downtown Indianapolis office, 11 S. Meridian St. Attendees need to register for the meeting.


  • Costs
    I assume the Marion County IPL customers will be charged a higher electric rate than the non-Marion County customers of IPL as a result of this Marion County initiative?
  • Carbon Tax
    Since carbon is the problem, why not use a carbon tax and let the free market work it's magic. It was the conservative's solution, until Obama was for it.
  • No Shortage of Base Load
    We have plenty of base load capacity. Wind & solar will provide peak use offset, particular solar on clear hot days when everyone is running their A/C units. The grid experiences the highest usage during the middle of the day. We can easily take the Harding St power plant offline and replace that capacity with renewables. Remember, after initial investment, the renewables provide practically free power since the input is free (the wind & the sun).
  • Record Use of Coal
    We don't have to worry about any miners losing their jobs in the coal industry. China and Europe are both buying record levels of American coal. Here is an article about Europe buying American coal... http://www.the-american-interest.com/blog/2014/05/07/europe-buys-record-amounts-of-dirty-us-coal/. The European market is turning its back on nuclear power now and reverting back to using coal. They also have "scrubbers" on their coal power plants that remove 90% of sulfur as pointed out in this article... http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303417104579543814192542586 The issue I see is what happens when we run out of oil/natural gas and we no longer have coal as a backup here in the US. Tipton county recently made it economically unfeasible to build a wind farm in that county.
  • Which One Is Actually Subsidized?
    More deception and outright ignorance. And, of course, "enough said" to shut down a conversation about the truth. The truth is that it is US "green energy technology" that is heavily subsidized with tax credits and sometimes by outright tax payments and this is by US federal legislation, my friend. US "green energy" would not much exist if it were not for the extensive and heavy subsidies granted by the US government to herd the people away from reliable and less expensive fossil fuels. Without all the tax credits for establishing "wind mill" farms, for example, you would hardly see them. The free market would reject them because any energy they produce is marginal and costly... which would be good because like solar, wind is just not enough. Batteries and the like are technology of the past and that is exactly where liberals without a clue want to take civilization. I've yet to see anyone fly a jet or power a production factory on batteries, wind, or solar alone.
  • Coal to Biomass
    European utilities that burn coal are converting to wood pellets made from waste wood biomass that's shipped from the USA to lower their CO2 emissions. Lowers pollution, little modifications are needed. Why not consider this vs, natural gas, solar or wind?
  • Externalities
    What Micah said x2. I would also add that technological advancement shifts jobs in the economy all the time. The coal industry may shed jobs, but other energy sectors will replace them as the economy shifts.
  • money
    $1 billion in renewable energy investment would produce more electricity annually than the Harding St plant can produce. Big reason is that after you spend that $1 billion to upgrade your fossil fuel burning facility, you still need to pay another $1 billion for the fuel and its waste disposal. Renewables by definition have a very small marginal cost for each kWh of energy they produce.
  • Fact or fiction
    It would be beneficial if those opposed to the use of coal actually understood something about which they write. How much electricity can you generate from solar panels at night or from wind mills on a calm day. The subsidies are given to the so-called renewables not coal and gas. Maybe you enjoy dark, cold nights.
  • Duke Oliver Is the One Who Stinks
    Duke Oliver is a race-baiting senile old man who usually comes out into the public eye this time of year (Black Expo) to defend 'bangers like Brandon Johnson or the guy who fired shots outside the Black Expo a few years ago. He publicly requested a bribe during a committee hearing from Eli Lilly last year of discounted prescription drugs or Pacers/Colts tickets. He hates business and was the lone holdout to vote for the Madison Avenue Economic Development Area earlier this year. I hate to tell him but there are worse problems plaguing Center Township than air quality.
  • Grammar, anyone?
    I'm sorry, my grammar in my first post makes me look like a dolt. Too much to do, and in a hurry. But I had to comment because I'm really tired of the "more renewables!" chant from those who only complain and don't offer realistic alternatives.
  • Let's Run Some Numbers
    Based on Mr. Adamson's previous comments, I assume he's in bed with the Citizen's Action Coalition and Sierra Club. While I don't know anyone (including, I assume IPL employees) who DOESN'T want to breathe clean air, here's are some facts. Based on a calculation that politically-centrist and math-addicted energy author Robert Bryce provided: if you wanted to replace the 2,187 MW of coal-fired generation IPL has at its Petersburg and Harding St. facilities, you'd need a wind farm 1,088 sq. miles in size. That's slightly larger than Marion, Johnson and Brown Counties COMBINED. And no one (or birds and bats) could live near it, given the shadow flicker, blinking red lights and low-frequency sound issues. (BTW, if you care about the energy/environment debate, get Bryce's new book, "Smaller-Faster-Lighter-Denser-Cheaper." It will open your eyes to a lot of unvarnished physics/math-based truths.) Another issue: Indiana's utility rates are already 20th in the U.S. - not exactly competitive as far as luring jobs. This doesn't mean I'm defending coal, but the windbags CAC, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, etc are anti-nat gas and anti-nuclear, too. (Nuclear is carbon-free, BTW.) Solar is getting cheaper but will forever need baseload backup (gas, nuclear or coal), so I'd just love to hear how Mr. Adamson and Oliver plan to power our homes and economy, unless they're ready to accept nat gas and nuclear. I'm sorry, but wind and solar are a fairytale until some VERY powerful, reliable battery technologies are created.
  • Externalities are real
    Coal is only less expensive if you exclude externalities, as virtually everyone who vigorously supports coal power does. There is a value, both economic and otherwise, to the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. There is a value to the health of Indianapolis residents, and there is a value to the environmental areas, both in Indiana and elsewhere, where coal mining destroys ecosystems. If those costs were properly captured in the price of "low cost" coal, it would not be the least expensive option. That isn't nanny-statism; that's basic economics.
  • The War On Coal II
    Steve, you are being disingenuous. Coal's price is being affected by onerous government regulations and restrictions. The free market is being driven out of coal's cost factor and being replaced by political fiat. There is much less "free market" left in traditional energy production. Ask Obama who promised that the cost of electricity produced by coal would "necessarily became much more expensive" under his alleged energy plans. That is exactly what the EPA is doing under the executive actions he promised he would not use. The only way government can force the use of the so-called "green" or alternative energy sources is to make the traditional fuels like coal so expensive through regulations and extra fees that consumers are herded to wind farms and the like. And that is exactly what is occurring. Check your facts, my friend.
  • Notta
    "The only complaint is that it stinks"...here is where I stopped reading your comment. Go to China, and see what else it does. Coal is heavily subsidized (no charge for environmental/social costs). Enough said.
    • The Free Market Votes No on Coal
      "Notta" is incorrect. The free market is turning to other sources of energy production exactly because the other sources are cheaper than coal. Coal is going the way of the buggy whip because its costs are unsustainable. Its time has come and gone. Appeals to protect the jobs of coal miners are not consonant with free market ideology. Remember the striking miners in Britain in the early 70s?
      • The War On Coal
        Down wind offers no compelling argument against coal other than "it stinks". Tell that to the miners you will cause to lose jobs because for them coal pays for the food on their children's table and pays their too-high taxes politicians extort. Coal is cheaper than nuclear, gas, or oil. Coal removes dependency on foreign produced oil. Coal is nothing more than ancient wood which has been under pressure for eons. Coal provides a great number of jobs and is safe in transporting as opposed to some natural gas conveyance and oil tankers on high seas. Remove coal from the energy equation and what actual viable options do you have remaining? Nuclear? Wind? Hydro? Solar? Duracell??? NONE of those alternatives can match the efficiency of coal at this time. And while we must continue to seek other energy sources, the best our wonderful government could "give" us was the huge taxpayer boondoggle of the failed Solyndra enterprise. Let the free market work for a change and who knows what energy advances might be possible? I am worn out by these false energy narratives shoved down Americans' throats. Down Wind, how can you claim that coal is a "dead source of energy production" when the facts are otherwise? As for the emotional hysterical "coal is killing people"... that is just hyperbolic churlish nonsense. Down wind, you almost sound as if you are actually one of the Indianapolis CC councilors pushing this ill-conceived grandstand ploy.
      • Coal stinks !
        Good for the councilor's on this plan. Indianapolis and Indiana is one of the top five coal polluted states in the nation. Coal is a dead source for energy production and is killing people.
        • More Liberal Utopian Grandstanding
          Thought the City needed a change and voted for Zach Adamson and contributed to his campaign for re-election. Then I see this lunacy. Thanks to both of these Democrats for working hard to increase the already high energy costs Indianapolis voters face with every fuel bill. No more campaign contributions, not another vote cast.
        • Coal
          The nanny state Democrats war on coal continues. Shame on them.

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