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Bill advances to pause Indiana coal power plant closings

That vote came after the committee scaled back the bill so that restrictions on power plant closures only last until July 2021.

Posted: Jan 23, 2020 4:40 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal aimed at making it more difficult for Indiana electric companies to close additional coal-fired power plants faces objections from consumer and environmental groups who argue it could stifle growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

The Indiana House utilities committee voted 9-4 Wednesday along party lines to advance the bill to the full House.

That vote came after the committee scaled back the bill so that restrictions on power plant closures only last until July 2021.

Republican Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso, the bill’s sponsor, said he wanted a one-year pause in additional plant closings because of what he sees as a gap for when renewable sources can provide reliable and stable electricity service.

He also said he wants the delay so more plant closings aren’t in motion before a state energy task force completes a report for legislators that’s due in late 2020.

“We will need the backup power until this thing sorts out,” Soliday said.

The proposal comes as Indiana’s four main electric utilities intend on closing several coal-burning plants in the coming years.

Those include plans from Indianapolis Power & Light Co. to retire by 2023 two of the four coal-burning units at its Petersburg Generating Station in southeastern Indiana, while Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. aims to shut down four of its five remaining coal-fired units within five years.

Coal industry analyst Emily Medine argued in support of the bill, saying existing coal-burning plants provide affordable and reliable power, and closing those plants would be an irreversible decision.

The consumer group Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana maintains the pause unnecessarily hampers the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and gives incentives to an outdated power source.

“It interferes in the market place,” said Kerwin Olson, the group’s executive director. “It is going to cost customers money, it’s going to increase regulatory lag.”

Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, said he worried about the one-year pause being extended and hindering the development of cleaner energy sources.

“Right now, the bill is a temporary roadblock to modernizing the power sector in Indiana but we’re worried about it becoming a permanent roadblock,” Kharbanda said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111505

Reported Deaths: 3506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20699758
Lake10217318
Elkhart6368109
St. Joseph604597
Allen5965200
Hamilton4676109
Vanderburgh334129
Hendricks2650122
Monroe240836
Johnson2257122
Tippecanoe221013
Clark211756
Porter205244
Cass19319
Delaware187061
Vigo176622
Madison157775
LaPorte136737
Floyd130361
Howard127563
Kosciusko119017
Bartholomew114957
Warrick114135
Marshall98524
Dubois94918
Boone94446
Hancock90542
Grant88233
Noble88132
Henry76324
Wayne73914
Jackson7349
Morgan69638
Shelby66529
Daviess64127
LaGrange63011
Dearborn62628
Clinton59112
Harrison56024
Putnam5329
Montgomery50521
Lawrence50328
Knox4869
White47914
Gibson4744
Decatur45339
DeKalb45011
Miami4243
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3822
Steuben3677
Scott35310
Sullivan32912
Jennings30912
Posey3020
Franklin29725
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll27013
Wabash2638
Washington2581
Whitley2526
Starke2517
Wells2472
Adams2443
Jefferson2433
Fulton2352
Huntington2213
Spencer2194
Tipton21722
Perry20913
Randolph2067
Jay1700
Newton17011
Owen1641
Martin1620
Rush1514
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1152
Pulaski1141
Blackford1132
Crawford1030
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 144309

Reported Deaths: 4615
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25977603
Cuyahoga17092642
Hamilton12756308
Montgomery7501152
Lucas7119357
Butler563299
Summit5096249
Marion306347
Mahoning2991279
Warren291048
Stark2739168
Pickaway263344
Lorain226386
Delaware213520
Fairfield202050
Columbiana191980
Licking185762
Trumbull1848131
Clark172338
Wood170671
Clermont162620
Lake157649
Medina143038
Allen136767
Greene135228
Miami135049
Portage107466
Mercer105317
Tuscarawas91220
Wayne90166
Erie89944
Ross85622
Richland78419
Madison78012
Darke76039
Belmont70727
Geauga70347
Hancock6579
Ashtabula64348
Athens5972
Lawrence59418
Shelby5819
Auglaize5659
Sandusky55420
Putnam54123
Huron5237
Union4932
Ottawa46530
Scioto4646
Seneca43914
Preble42013
Holmes3717
Muskingum3712
Jefferson3184
Henry29712
Champaign2933
Logan2933
Perry2859
Defiance28110
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2752
Hardin25013
Morrow2492
Washington24823
Fulton2341
Jackson2314
Coshocton23011
Fayette2256
Ashland2234
Highland2203
Crawford2186
Wyandot20112
Williams1983
Gallia18012
Meigs1729
Hocking1619
Pike1580
Guernsey1567
Carroll1507
Adams1214
Van Wert1113
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison611
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
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