The global electric utility AES announced it will go coal free by 2025. But does that mean AES Indiana will fully close its Petersburg coal plant by then? It’s hard to say.
The utility — formerly known as Indianapolis Power and Light — has already closed one unit of the plant and will close another by May of next year. But the remaining two units weren’t expected to close for another 20 years.
AES Indiana is in the middle of its long-term planning process, where it usually decides what energy sources to build or retire. President and CEO Kristina Lund said the utility won’t have a decision on Petersburg until that process is done late this year.
“And we really welcome our customers and partners and their engagement in this process with us," she said.
The next public meeting on the utility's integrated resource plan is April 12.
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The Petersburg plant currently employs about 300 people and is one of the largest taxpayers in Pike County.
Wendy Bredhold is with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana. The group and the City of Indianapolis have said the plant needs to fully retire in order to help avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Bredhold said AES Indiana’s response is confusing and “takes the shine off of” the corporate announcement.
“By not only refusing to say what their plans are for the Petersburg super polluter in southwest Indiana, but suggesting that they may not retire it in a follow up to our questions," she said.
The larger AES Corporation serves customers in Indiana, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and more than a dozen other countries — mostly in Central and South America.
Before Thursday’s announcement, the company had planned to go down to 10 percent coal-fired power by 2025.
In a statement, AES Corporation said — with its agreements to purchase five gigawatts of renewable energy sources — it's "the fastest growing U.S. renewables developer and the largest supplier of corporate renewables contracts in the world."
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.