A proposed settlement agreement negotiated between utility companies, local governments and advocacy groups could finalize one of the most carbon-emitting power plants in the state will close before the end of the decade. 

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will consider a settlement agreement to close Indiana Michigan Power Co.’s Rockport Generating Station’s Unit 2, the remaining coal-fired electric generating unit at the plant, by 2028.

American Electric Power Generating Co., Indiana Michigan Power’s parent company, previously announced it would retire the plant’s Unit 1 by 2028.

If approved by the IURC, the deal would ensure the complete closure of the plant.

The deal was a result of negotiations between AEP, Indiana Michigan Power, the Sierra Club, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, I&M Industrial Group, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the City of Marion, the City of Fort Wayne and the Wabash Valley Power Association.

“This is a significant victory. It is the first full retirement announcement of one of the four Super Polluters polluting the air and water in this corner of the state, and, because it is legally binding, we can be certain this coal plant will retire by 2028, if not sooner,” said Wendy Bredhold, senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana.

Over the past decade, the Rockport plant has emitted more than 134 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. 

According to data reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, emissions peaked in 2012, with 17.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases being emitted in a single year. 

The plant also emitted thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals every year, including hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and many others.

The Rockport power plant at one point ranked fourth in the nation for total greenhouse gas emissions and 44th for toxic releases out of thousands of power plants in the U.S., making it one of four other heavily polluting power plants in southwestern Indiana to receive the “super polluter” designation by the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel. 

The state’s “super polluters,” the Rockport plant, AES Indiana’s Petersburg Generating Station, Duke Energy’s Gibson Power Plant and the Alcoa/CenterPoint Energy generating unit in Warrick County, are all within 30 miles of Evansville, Indiana.

The settlement agreement that could fully shutter the Rockport plant also includes other stipulations that could improve air quality in the state.

The agreement requires that Indiana Michigan Power complete an analysis to determine whether customers will save money if the company retires Rockport Unit 1 in 2024, 2025 and 2026, potentially speeding up its closure.

The company would also be required to consider all resources, including renewable energy, before seeking approval of new generating sources to fulfill future energy needs arising from the retirement of Units 1 and 2.

Indiana Michigan Power will have to model a scenario within its current 20-year planning process that removes coal-fired power plants it partially owns in Indiana and Ohio. 

The companies and other parties involved in the agreement have asked the IURC to schedule a hearing for the agreement Oct. 18 and hope to have the agreement fully approved by Dec. 15.

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