Duke Energy announced it will retire its Gallagher coal plant in New Albany, Indiana, more than a year early. This comes about a week after the northern Indiana utility NIPSCO announced a similar plan for half of its Schahfer coal plant.
Duke spokesperson Angeline Protogere says the Gallagher plant is more than 60 years old.
“In recent years, it's been operating at a much limited capacity. And so it was more of an economic decision and we decided to retire it by June 1," she said.
Protogere says the lower energy demand brought on by the pandemic also reduced the amount of time the plant ran.
The Gallagher plant employs about 24 people. Protogere said some of them will have an opportunity to find work within the utility and some are eligible for retirement. Duke will also continue to operate its field office in the New Albany area.
Wendy Bredhold is with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana. She said she’s glad to hear the plant is retiring early, but said Duke needs to focus on speeding up retirements at its other plants — like Edwardsport and Gibson — to meet climate goals and avoid some of the catastrophic effects of climate change.
“They need to be a lot more ambitious in terms of the transition away from their existing coal plants in Indiana, because they're failing in comparison to all the other Indiana utilities," Bredhold said.
Bredhold cited a recent report by the Sierra Club that gave utilities a score based on planned coal retirements, construction of new natural gas plants, and clean energy projects. Both Duke Energy Indiana and the larger Duke Corporation were given an F.
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.