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Ind. utility to shutter coal units, issue RFP

Indianapolis Power & Light Co. will propose to shut the two oldest units at its coal-fired Petersburg plant in Pike County, Ind., as part of an integrated resource plan to be submitted to Indiana regulators.

The company announced the decision Dec. 9 at a public advisory meeting on the final integrated resource plan and issued a news release the same day.

Petersburg Unit 1, which has a nameplate capacity of 282 MW and began operating in 1967, will be retired in 2021, according to a statement issued by the Sierra Club. Unit 2, with a nameplate capacity of 523 MW and which began operating in 1969, will be retired in 2023.

The other two Petersburg units, with nameplate capacities of 671 MW each, are to continue operating until at least 2042, the Sierra Club said, even though it urged Indiana Power & Light, or IPL, to shut them down by 2028.

Petersburg Unit 3 began operating in 1977 and Unit 4 started up in 1986. The plant's sources of coal in 2019 include Peabody Energy Corp.'s Somerville Central Mine in Gibson County, Ind., and Bear Run Mine in Sullivan County, Ind.; Hallador Energy Co.'s Oaktown Fuels Mine No. 1 in Knox County, Ind.; and Alliance Resource Partners LP's Gibson Mine, in Gibson County, Ind.

A third party acting on behalf of IPL, an AES Corp. subsidiary, will issue a request for proposals for replacement capacity, the company said in the release, with all sources of power generation being considered.

The integrated resource plan, which aims to modify the utility's electric generation strategy over the course of the next two decades, will be filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Dec. 16. Utilities are required to conduct integrated resource planning processes every three years under Indiana state law.

Other Indiana utilities are scaling back their coal-fired resources. NiSource Inc. subsidiary Northern Indiana Public Service Co. in October issued several requests for proposals for 2,600 MW of wind, solar and storage capacity to meet future supply needs as it shuts down all of its coal capacity by 2028.

IPL as well has been transforming its power generation fleet. In 2016 it converted its Harding Street plant from coal to natural gas. Last year it brought online a 671-MW gas-fired plant. It also has about 400 MW of wind and solar resources it obtains under power purchase agreements.

By 2023, IPL said, its generation portfolio will be 28% coal and almost half natural gas. In 2007, coal resources made up 79% of its fleet.