Hoosier Energy to close Sullivan County power plant in 2023

An energy cooperative announced Tuesday it will close a southwestern Indiana power plant in 2023, affecting 185 workers.

Bloomington-based Hoosier Energy said it will idle the coal-fired Merom Generating Station in Sullivan County as part of a transition to other energy sources including wind, solar, natural gas and storage. The 1,070-megawatt plant went online in 1982.

Hoosier Energy said the closing is part of a long-range resource plan designed to provide its 18 member power cooperatives with “reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy while saving members an estimated $700 million over the next two decades.” It said the plan will cut its carbon footprint by nearly 80%.

Hoosier Energy President & CEO Donna Walker said the cooperative will work with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to offer affected workers help with retraining, reassignment, retirement options and outplacement.

Hoosier Energy provides electric power to 18 power distribution cooperatives in southern and central Indiana and southeastern Illinois serving nearly 650,000 consumers.

The closure is part of a movement by power companies away from coal. Last week, Indiana Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, introduced a bill that would prevent state utilities from retiring coal-fired power plants early in favor of newer, cleaner technology unless they can prove it’s required by a federal mandate or otherwise in the public interest.

In 2010, Indiana had 26 active coal-burning power units. By 2016, it had just 13, and now that number is on track to decrease by at least another 10 to 11 by 2028. But coal still accounted for more than 60% of the state’s electricity generation in 2018.

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