INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana regulators have approved Indianapolis Power & Light Co.'s nearly $670 million plan to upgrade two of its power plants as part of a push to meet tougher environmental regulations.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission endorsed IPL's proposal to build a $631 million natural gas turbine power plant near Martinsville in south-central Indiana. That 650-megawatt plant will replace six coal-fired power units near Martinsville that IPL plans to retire in the face of new federal mercury and air quality standards.
The utility also received IURC approval Wednesday for a $36 million project to convert two units at its power plant complex on Indianapolis' south side from coal to natural gas.
IURC spokesman Danielle McGrath said IPL, which serves about 470,000 customers in Indianapolis and surrounding counties, has yet to make a request to the commission for a rate increase to support the total $667 million in upgrades that were approved this week.
IPL President and CEO Kelly Huntington said in a statement the projects are "the most cost-effective and reliable solution" to replace the power plants the company is retiring due to the tougher environmental standards.
But the Sierra Club said IPL will continue adding to the Indianapolis metropolitan area's air quality woes and causing respiratory troubles for children, the elderly and others by keeping its "dirtiest and largest" coal-fired unit — a 427-megawatt plant — operating on the city's south side for years to come.
Jodi Perras, the Indiana representative for Sierra Club' Beyond Coal Campaign, noted that the American Lung Association earlier this year ranked the Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie metropolitan area as having the nation's 16th worst air for short-term particle pollution, also known as soot.
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