INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) today announced its plans to cease burning coal at the local Harding Street coal-fired power plant by 2016, marking an enormous victory for Indianapolis community groups and residents who have led a campaign to protect clean air and public health by urging IPL to phase out coal in Marion County.
“For the past two years, thousands of Indianapolis residents have demanded clean air for our community. They have signed petitions and postcards, rallied on the steps of Monument Circle and at the Indiana State Museum, and urged their City-County Councillors to call on IPL to stop burning coal at the Harding Street plant. More than 55 churches, neighborhood associations, student groups, and many other organizations have passed resolutions urging IPL to power our city forward with clean energy and put an end to toxic coal pollution in Indianapolis. Today, those calls have been answered and we’ll see an end to coal pollution in Marion County by 2016,” said Jodi Perras, Indiana Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
“We applaud IPL for recognizing the costs and risks that would have accompanied the continued use of dirty coal at Harding St. Ending the use of coal not only benefits the health and environment of our community, but will go a long way in protecting the pocketbooks of ratepayers,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of Citizens Action Coalition.
IPL’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant was responsible for 88 percent of the toxic industrial pollution released in 2012 in Marion County, according to information released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Harding Street power plant is also the largest source of dangerous soot and sulfur dioxide pollution in Marion County, contributing to Central Indiana’s failing grades for air quality announced earlier this year by the American Lung Association.
“Research has shown that air pollution from the Harding Street coal-fired power plant causes premature heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and deaths in our community. These diseases fall disproportionately on our inner city, including families with children who are medically underserved. IPL's decision is a positive step for our community. I look forward to telling my asthma patients at a neighborhood free clinic that they will be breathing easier soon,” said Dr. Steve Jay, a local physician and Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
In July, City-County Councilors Zach Adamson (D-At Large) and William “Duke” Oliver (D-10th District) introduced a resolution urging IPL to develop a cost-effective plan to stop burning coal at the Harding Street plant and increase its clean energy investments. The bi-partisan measure passed the Community Affairs Committee 4-1 last month.
“IPL has long been a strong corporate partner for the city, helping to build an Indianapolis we can all be proud of. I want to thank IPL for recognizing what the community has been saying for some time: part of being a first-class city is having clean air and clean water. Our children and people struggling with asthma will be breathing easier once IPL stops burning coal in Indianapolis,” said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson (D-At Large).
"Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light is pleased that Indianapolis Power and Light has decided to not burn coal at its Harding Street plant by 2016. This is a positive step forward for our city in helping us care for God's good creation and improving the health of our people,” said Rev. Dennis Shock with Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light.
In addition to phasing out coal entirely by 2016, IPL also announced plans to close its coal ash lagoons at the Harding Street plant.
"Today's remarkable announcement means that the people of Central Indiana will breathe cleaner air and that our region will be contributing substantially less climate-disrupting pollution. We are also pleased to hear that IPL plans to close its dirty coal ash lagoons as part of the transition from coal to gas. Our gratitude to the Sierra Club for its tireless leadership and to many partners. And our appreciation to IPL for making a wise decision to move past coal in Indianapolis,” said Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.
With today’s announcement, 177 coal-fired power plants across the country have been slated for retirement as coal continues its decline nationwide. The retirement of the sole remaining coal-fired boiler at the Harding Street plant also represents the 500th unit to be retired since 2010.