A utility that serves about 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana plans to close three coal-fired power plants while adding solar and wind power as part of a larger proposal that environmental groups are criticizing because it would keep one coal power plant in operation.
Vectren officials said the proposed switch will save customers an estimated $320 million over 20 years and lower carbon dioxide emissions about 75% from 2005 levels.
"It's a cost-effective plan built on cleaner generation," said company spokeswoman Natalie Hedde.
While Vectren will retire the two coal-fired plants at its A.B. Brown power plant in Posey County and one of the two coal units at its F.C. Culley power plant in Warrick County, there is no plan to stop using Culley's remaining 230-megawatt coal-fired generating station, said Matt Rice, the company's manager of resource planning.
That power station is fully equipped with pollution controls for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate pollution, Rice said.
Environmental advocates are disappointed that the utility intends to continue burning coal at the Culley plant, while adding 460 megawatts of natural gas generated power generation capacity, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.
The Sierra Club and other groups want Vectren to switch entirely to renewable energy.
Melissa Williams, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said continuing to operate the Culley coal-fired generating station keeps Vectren customers on the hook for the high cost of maintaining that aging plant, which opened in 1973.