June 16, 2020 Read More →

Indiana utility Vectren charts quick transition away from coal to renewable generation

E&E News:

The electric utility serving southern Indiana’s coal country yesterday announced a plan to transition swiftly from coal to renewable energy as part of a strategy it said would save consumers more than $300 million and slash carbon emissions.

The plan, announced by Vectren Corp., would reduce the utility’s reliance on coal from 78% this year to just 12% by mid-decade.

Vectren, a unit of Houston-based CenterPoint Energy Inc., is the second Indiana utility to announce a massive shift away from coal in the past two years and comes in spite of intense lobbying by Indiana’s coal industry to slow the retirement of aging plants. In late 2018, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. announced a plan to shut its coal fleet within a decade — most of it by 2023 — and replace much of the capacity with renewables.

Vectren’s announcement is similar. Under a “preferred portfolio” that’s the core of a 20-year integrated resource plan (IRP), the utility would shutter most of its coal-fired generation by 2023 and add more than 1,000 megawatts of wind energy and solar, some of which would be paired with battery storage.

The utility said shutting three coal units will save an estimated $700 million that would be required to meet environmental regulations. Replacing the units with wind and solar energy, meanwhile, will reduce the utility’s carbon emissions by 75%.

The Vectren plan represents not just a dramatic shift from the status quo but also a big departure from a previous proposal by the utility to replace much of its coal capacity with a new $900 million natural gas plant. The gas plant proposal was rejected by state regulators, who sent Vectren back to the drawing board.

[Jeffrey Tomich]

More: 78% to 12% coal: Ind. utility announces renewable shift

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