INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Republicans have proposed an amendment that would temporarily ban
the opening of new, large power plants.
would prohibit state regulators from approving any new power plants, new
power contracts or alterations in fuel sources until Jan. 1, 2021. Massive
power plants would be barred from generating capacity greater than 250
The House Utilities
Committee approved the amendment Wednesday, the Indiana Business Journal
reported. Rep. Ed Soliday, the amendment’s sponsor, said Gov. Eric Holcomb
backs the proposal.
The state needs to
determine whether shifting from coal to natural gas and renewables would
throw the electric grid out of balance, Soliday said.
The amendment can
now be considered in the House and the Senate.
industry, like in many states, has struggled as electric utilities shift
from aging coal-burning units to cost-efficient fuels. The proposal comes as
two major utilities have reported plans in recent months to significantly
transition away from coal.
president of the Indiana Energy Association, which represents large,
investor-owned utilities, said his association has expressed concerns to
Soliday about the proposal.
concerned about this,” Maassel said. “The interruption of the normal flow of
things at the utility regulatory commission is problematic for us.”
Public Service Co., headquartered in Merrillville, hopes to retire four of
its five remaining coal-fired, electricity-burning units within five years,
and the other within ten years. The company noted that the change will save
it $4 billion over the next 20 years.
NIPSCO said it is
still reviewing the proposal and declined to comment whether it would
endanger its future projects.
Coalition of Indiana, a grassroots consumer group, said the temporary ban on
plants does not make sense since it contradicts an expansive national effort
toward cost-effective, cleaner electricity.
“The only winner
here is coal,” said Kerwin Olson, the group’s executive director. “This is
absolutely a decision to slow down, if not stop, the planned retirement of
multiple coal-fired power plants in Indiana and directly interferes in
decisions Indiana utilities have already made to transition away from coal.”