One of Indiana’s largest coal plants is expected to close in the next seven years. Indiana Michigan Power had already planned to close half of the Rockport coal plant in Spencer County. But until now, the fate of the plant’s other half was up in the air.
That’s because the other half of the plant wasn’t owned by the utility, but by a corporate financial services company called the Wilmington Trust Co. But this week, Indiana Michigan Power’s parent company — American Electric Power — said it would purchase that half of the plant so that both coal units can retire by 2028.
Wendy Bredhold is the senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana and Kentucky — which welcomed I&M’s decision.
“It’s certainly — certainly required if we’re going to mitigate the impacts of climate change and clean up the air quality in southwest Indiana,” she said.
I&M also plans to transition to more renewable energy sources by 2030.
“The commitment that they’re making nationwide is very impressive,” Bredhold said. “It’s 16 gigawatts of renewable energy including the biggest wind farm in North America. You know, that’s the kind of commitment that we would love to see them make in Indiana as well.”
So far, the utility expects to add 1,700 megawatts of wind, solar, and battery storage in Indiana. It’s currently working on a new 20-year plan.
More than 170 people work at the Rockport coal plant. Last year, it generated more than $5 million in local tax revenue. In an email statement, I&M said the utility and AEP are in talks with employees and community leaders about the future of the plant and how to encourage economic development in the region.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.