Indianapolis Power & Light expects that its Petersburg coal plant could soon run more often. Depending on who you ask, that could be a good thing or a bad thing for IPL customers.
IPL forecasts that the plant’s capacity factor — or how often it can run — will increase to 70 percent next year. That’s up from less than 60 percent in 2015.
Patrick Maguire is the utility’s director of resource planning. He says natural gas prices are expected to be higher than they were in the past three years, making coal more attractive. In its current rate case, IPL is proposing taking the money from surplus energy generated by the plant and passing that savings on to customers.
“So to the extent that the units run more and we are generating more wholesale sales, more of that margin will go back to customers," says Maguire.
But the Citizens Action Coalition argues the costs to run the Petersburg plant outweigh its benefits to the grid and IPL customers. Executive Director Kerwin Olson also says that the coal plant will pollute the air more often if it’s allowed to run longer.
“So it’s a loss for customers in terms of higher bills and it’s a loss for the public in terms of our environment and our health,” says Olson.
You can read more about IPL's current rate case.
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.