"Gov. Daniels announces homegrown energy plan
Editor’s note: This story is first in a series that explores Gov. Daniels and energy producers.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has announced a strategic energy plan that aims to replace imported energy sources with homegrown fuels. The “Hoosier Homegrown” energy plan also aims at boosting Indiana jobs and growth through greater production of various forms of energy within the state.
“Indiana consumers pay lower rates — among the lowest in the country — and that is a key competitive advantage for all of our business growth and retention,” said Daniels when announcing the plan last week. “But that advantage is at risk because we will soon become a net importer of electricity. We already import all of our natural gas and are the sixth largest per capita natural gas-consuming state. The state’s economic comeback depends on development of our energy potential.”
Among the goals of the plan, which has been in development over the past year, are to substitute Indiana coal and biomass for current coal, natural gas and petroleum imports to supply Indiana’s energy to reduce energy dependency and increase reliability; maintain and extend the state’s competitive advantage of reliable, low-cost power; produce electricity, natural gas and transportation fuels from clean coal and bioenergy; and build needed new power plants using “clean coal” technology and make synthetic gas from coal instead of importing natural gas.
The state has dramatically grown its biofuels industry in the past 18 months. The governor said he is confident the state will be equally as successful in its pursuit of clean coal and biomass facilities, which also will create new jobs and provide Indiana with greater energy security. “Our energy industry must grow. With new forms of energy production, such as biodiesel, ethanol and clean coal, we will preserve and grow jobs and incomes,” Daniels said.
Indiana is the sixth-largest natural gas consuming state in the nation — consuming 1.8 million gallons of petroleum every day, an increase of 300,000 gallons since 1999. While Indiana used to be a major natural gas producer, we now essentially import 100 percent of the natural gas typically used for home heating, electricity generation and to power manufacturing facilities. According to Daniels, by tying synthetic gas to future coal prices instead of natural gas or petroleum, Indiana gas customers could see substantial savings and be less dependent on foreign imports.
Currently, 75 percent of the state’s energy expenditures leave Indiana for imports of coal, natural gas and oil. Coal provides over 90 percent of electric generation in the state, but over 50 percent of coal consumed comes from outside of the state. Indiana has an abundance of coal — 17 billion tons of reserves or 485 years’ worth at current consumption rates — but it is high in sulfur content and requires clean air technologies to use productively. The energy plan calls for pursuit of clean coal technologies and building new generation facilities.
The plan also encourages more use of biomass for power generation, which would expand Indiana’s agriculture, food processing and other waste-producing ventures, involving animal waste, landfill gas and woody biomass.
The strategic energy plan was created by the Office of Energy and Defense Development over the past year through extensive consultation with energy consumers and producers as well as federal, state and local officials in several public hearings across the state. A copy of the Hoosier Homegrown Energy initiative can be found at www.energy.in.gov.