Vectren Releases Plan to Reduce Dependence on Coal, Increase Renewables #BeyondCoal

Vectren released a 20-year energy plan that retires all but one coal-burning generation unit by 2024, and builds its first utility-owned 50MW solar farm by 2019.

Vectren released its plan to customers and clean energy advocates on November 29th. More than a dozen local Vectren customers and clean energy advocates questioned aspects of the plan that over-rely on gas and do not go far enough on development of energy efficiency programs and renewable energy.

Vectren is expected to file its plan with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on December 16, 2016. The plan would retire the A.B. Brown plant in Posey County and half of the F.B. Culley power plant in Warrick County in 2024, and also end Vectren’s ownership of the Warrick plant in 2020 — a plant that’s co-owned with Alcoa Corp. Vectren also proposes to build 54 megawatts of solar by 2019, close several small gas plants and build a large 889 MW gas plant in 2024.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has been organizing in Evansville for the past two years to advocate for retirement of the Brown and Culley power plants and investment in renewable energy. Just last month, The Weather Channel and The Center for Public Integrity aired an investigative news story that highlighted the health impact of burning coal for energy. That story called Evansville the epicenter of coal-burning related pollution in the country; garnering national attention for having four of the country’s 22 Super Polluters within 30 miles.

“Vectren’s 20-year plan acknowledges the need for a lower carbon future, with the retirement of most of its major polluters by  2024,’ said Wendy Bredhold, Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in the Ohio River Valley. “We applaud Vectren for moving to phase out coal; which CEO Carl Chapman said will result in a 60 percent reduction in carbon from 2005 levels, but this plan should include less reliance on gas and more on energy efficiency and renewable energy. We will keep pushing Vectren for more efficiency, wind, and solar.”

“While the announced coal retirements are great, the over-reliance on another fossil fuel – gas – is a huge concern,” said Mallory Rodenberg, a Vectren customer in Evansville. “This 20-year plan only increases Vectren’s commitment to energy efficiency by 3 percent and renewable energy by 2 percent, while increasing their gas dependence by 46 percent! I understand that there needs to be an energy mix in this transition, but it does not make sense to shortchange those things that will decrease customers’ bills while heavily investing in volatile gas.”

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