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Daily Energy Insider: Indiana Weighs How to Best Manage Transition from Coal to Renewable Energy

Posted by Jaclyn Brandt on Sep 28, 2020

Daily Energy Insider reported on Indiana's recent policy decisions to prevent coal plant shutdowns, quoting AEE's Caryl Auslander. Read excerpts below and the full piece here.

Indiana is confronting a complicated choice faced by a number of U.S. states: whether to close coal plants in favor of advancing renewable energy or to keep them open to support jobs. The electricity generation portfolios of Indiana electric utilities are becoming more diversified as they shift toward including more renewables and gas-fired generation facilities and less on coal-fired generation.

However, in March, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1414, a bill that makes it more challenging for electric utilities to retire their coal plants in Indiana.

“HEA 1414 marked the second year in a row that legislation was introduced in Indiana to attempt to prevent coal plant shutdowns. In 2019, supporters of the bill argued that shutting down coal would harm reliability,” said Caryl Auslander, policy director for Indiana Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). “When those arguments didn’t win over many people, 2020 brought calls to save coal jobs.”

HEA 1414 was authored by Rep. Ed Soliday, a Republican who serves as chair of the House Utility Committee and co-chair of the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force. The task force commissioned a report from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to look at the pros and cons of closing the state’s coal plants...

Meanwhile, many other states are considering legislation to attract new energy investment, according to Auslander, specifically advanced energy resources. “The advanced energy industry has opposed attempts to bail out uneconomic coal plants, particularly in Indiana where advanced energy resources are the most cost-effective investment. Already, utilities are making investments in wind, solar, storage, and energy efficiency with an estimated savings of over $4.3 billion. Any legislation that attempts to keep coal online only prevents consumers from getting these benefits...”

“As we head into the 2021 session, we anticipate that the coal industry will come back for a third session to look for support, Auslander said. “We’ll work to ensure that legislators remain accountable to their word to not support legislation that would further pick the government over market forces at the expense of consumers.”

AEE sees many electric utilities taking the lead to transition away from coal to renewable energy resources that will directly benefit local economies through new energy investment and consumers by offering lower energy prices, she said...

Read the entire Daily Energy Insider piece here.

Topics: AEE In The News