Indianapolis coal power plant to shut down

The Indianapolis Power & Light Co. will shut down its last coal-fired generating unit in Indianapolis, a move environmentalists are cheering as a major victory.

The utility announced Friday that, subject to state approval, it plans to retire the final coal unit at its Harding Street Generating Station and completely convert the facility to use natural gas. It cited federal Environmental Protection Agency rules as one reason for the switch.

“IPL has a commitment to provide affordable electricity, and converting Harding Street Unit 7 to natural gas is the best plan for our customers because it is the reasonable, least cost option,” IPL President Kelly Huntington said in a statement. “Compliance with current and future EPA standards will continue to increase the cost of electricity for our customers.”

After switching the final unit to natural gas, IPL’s total portfolio will use 44 percent coal, down from 79 percent in 2007, the company said. The utility asked to convert two other units to natural gas earlier this year.

The Sierra Club said the Indianapolis unit is the 500th coal-fired boiler to announce a shutdown since it launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2010.

“For the past two years, thousands of Indianapolis residents have demanded clean air for our community,” Jodi Perras, the Indiana representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. “Today, those calls have been answered and we’ll see an end to coal pollution in Marion County by 2016.”