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Indiana House backs slowing coal power plant closures

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Just two Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill, which faces objections from consumer and environmental groups who argue it props up the coal industry and could stifle growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

Posted: Feb 4, 2020 12:12 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House narrowly endorsed on Monday a proposal aimed at making it more difficult for Indiana electric companies to close more coal-fired power plants.

House members voted 52-41 in favor of the bill that would impose additional state reviews on utility companies for the coming year before they could move ahead with shutting down those plants.

Just two Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill, which faces objections from consumer and environmental groups who argue it props up the coal industry and could stifle growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

Republican Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso, the bill’s sponsor, said he wants to slow down any more plant closing decisions before a state energy task force completes a report for legislators that’s due in late 2020.

He said he worries about major actions happening before the Legislature can consider the report and whether to adopt a statewide energy policy next year.

“Whether that is coal or rabbits on a treadmill, we need the lights to come on when we flip the switch,” Soliday said. “We are in transition and all we’re asking is to be able to manage it.”

The proposal comes as at least four large Indiana 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 southwestern Indiana, while Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. aims to shut down four of its five remaining coal-fired units within five years.

Opponents argued that the proposal threatens higher electricity bills for consumers and adding bureaucratic steps for companies with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commisison.

“Let’s just let the market work its will,” said Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington. “Let’s not shift the balance of the scale to an inefficient competitor who’s having difficulties winning in the marketplace.”

Several coal mines in southwestern Indiana have closed in recent years, and some legislators from that area pointed to the importance of that industry to the state.

Republican Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville said coal is a primary reason the state has affordable electricity now as 70 percent of Indiana’s electricity now comes from coal-burning plants.

“I think we’re foolish to treat coal as something who’s day has come and gone,” Borders said.

The proposal now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 864322

Reported Deaths: 10711
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101705707
Cuyahoga860661145
Hamilton64392448
Montgomery43309418
Summit35063761
Lucas31500625
Butler31128232
Stark25933435
Warren19746141
Lorain19165223
Mahoning17383338
Lake16178154
Clermont16057111
Delaware1445479
Licking13274137
Fairfield1287781
Trumbull12861316
Greene12114139
Medina11666168
Clark10995265
Wood10407158
Allen9945126
Portage9382109
Miami921073
Richland9186118
Marion7467113
Tuscarawas7410182
Columbiana7356124
Pickaway728450
Wayne7080171
Muskingum705241
Erie6188129
Hancock554390
Ross5532100
Scioto541664
Geauga513555
Darke471092
Lawrence457958
Ashtabula454673
Union454628
Sandusky438562
Mercer434489
Seneca431566
Huron430041
Auglaize423064
Shelby421922
Jefferson420569
Belmont417740
Washington391840
Athens38129
Putnam376275
Madison356529
Knox354422
Ashland347438
Fulton339343
Defiance332286
Crawford323874
Preble321437
Brown313921
Logan309132
Ottawa294943
Clinton290743
Williams279467
Highland276718
Jackson265345
Guernsey256326
Champaign252628
Fayette237330
Morrow23334
Perry232018
Holmes225674
Henry220149
Hardin214033
Coshocton205722
Van Wert202645
Gallia198826
Wyandot196151
Pike177417
Adams176915
Hocking172624
Carroll156216
Paulding144721
Noble120740
Meigs109024
Monroe101032
Harrison89421
Morgan83430
Vinton70813
Unassigned00
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