Indianapolis Power targets next April for Eagle Valley retirement

Indianapolis Power & Light is getting ready to phase out coal at two of its power plants, said Dennis Dininger, the utility’s Director of Commercial Operations, in Dec. 16 fuel cost testimony filed at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“In the March through May 2016 forecast period, Harding Street Unit 7 will begin its outage to install the equipment to enable the burning of natural gas for generation (as approved in Cause No. 44540),” he wrote. “The Eagle Valley coal-fired plant will retire in April 2016 as previously determined in Cause No. 44242. All generating units to support the reliability of IPL’s 138kV system will be natural gas-fired units as a result of these events.”

He noted that beginning April 2016, 105,000 dekatherms per day of firm natural gas transportation will be held to support reliable generation at the Harding Street plant. Firm transportation from interstate pipelines safeguards the delivery of natural gas while protecting IPL customers from market price volatility due to transportation constraints.

Nicholas M. Grimmer, the utility’s Director of Fuel Supply, Logistics and Coal Combustion Product (CCP) Management, said in companion testimony that approximately 98% of IPL’s internally generated kilowatt-hours on an annual basis are currently generated by coal-fired capacity. The utility normally purchases all of its coal from the Illinois Basin, primarily from Indiana producers.

IPL currently has long-term contracts with four coal producers and receives coal from ten different mines. The current contracts are with Peabody Energy, Triad Mining, Sunrise Coal LLC and Gibson County Coal Co.

IPL strives to keep a 25-50 day supply of coal in inventory across its coal-fired generation fleet. Grimmer noted: “Although we have been working closely with our coal suppliers and transportation vendors, IPL’s system-wide inventory is currently beyond our 50 day maximum inventory target. Mild weather, soft markets and extended outages have all combined to reduce IPL’s coal burn below expectations.”

Said the IPL website about the 1,094-MW Harding Street plant: “In July 2015 the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approved IPL’s plans to repower Unit 7 at Harding Street Station (HSS) from coal-fired to natural gas. This conversion is part of IPL’s overall waste-water compliance plan for its power plants. In May of 2014, IPL received approval from the IURC to convert Harding Street Units 5 and 6 from coal to natural gas. Once the plans are completely implemented IPL will stop burning coal at the Harding Street power plant in 2016, which will also eliminate the need for a coal pile and ash ponds.” Units 5-7 have been the only coal-fired facilities at the plant.

The IPL website added: “IPL has invested in new environmental controls at its Petersburg Generating Station and is converting units from coal to natural gas at its Harding Street Station to comply with new Utility Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) set by the EPA.”

The Eagle Valley facility, which will be retired next spring, has been a 341-MW plant. A new gas-fired power plant is being built at the same site.

These coal shutdowns and coal-to-gas conversions will leave the 1,760-MW Petersburg plant as the utility’s mainstay coal generator.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.