Indianapolis Power and Light announced that the Harding Street plant officially stopped burning coal this week. The announcement was made public through the company’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.
The local utility announced late 2014 that the power plant would switch from coal to natural gas this year. The facility had been targeted by local environmental groups for closure as one of the last coal-burning facilities in an urban city.
“On behalf of the Power Indy Forward coalition, we are celebrating the end of coal burning in Indianapolis and a future with cleaner air for our community,” said Jodi Perras, Indiana representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “More than 50 community organizations were part of the Power Indy Forward campaign calling on IPL to bring cleaner air to our community by transitioning away from dirty coal and toward more clean energy. We want to again thank IPL for this decision and we look forward to working with them to bring more clean energy to Indy as we transition away from dirty fuels. We also plan to work with IPL to ensure safe cleanup of the coal ash ponds on the Harding Street property.”
IPL officials state the decision to convert to natural gas was based on cost-effectiveness and was unrelated to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. The announcement only addressed the conversion and mentioning nothing about the coal ash ponds that are affiliated with the plant. The seven of the eight ponds are unlined and are considered a potential source for ground water contamination. Still, many of the people involved in the campaign consider IPL’s move to be a big victory for clean air advocates.
“My family and I could not be more excited that IPL will stop burning coal at Harding Street this week,” said Amber Sparks, a southside mom who testified before the Indianapolis City-County Council and campaigned for clean air for her neighborhood. “By removing a large source of air pollution just a couple of miles from my home, this will improve my neighborhood’s air quality and my children’s health issues, which are caused, in part, by such poor air quality. We are incredibly grateful for everyone’s hard work on such an important issue and are so glad we could be a part of the resolution.”
IPL has invested $70 million to convert Unit #7 to natural gas. The conversion is expected to be complete in April.