The Indiana Power and Light Company is shutting down the Eagle Valley coal power plant in Martinsville in 2015. IPL plans to replace it with a new plant fired by natural gas and hosted an open house in Martinsville Tuesday night so residents could get more information.
Company officials say about 600 construction workers will be hired to complete the project. Once completed the natural gas plant would employ about two-dozen people, approximately the same number as the coal plant.
But the transition would not be immediate for Eagle Valley coal plant workers who want to stay on. IPL says the new plant would open in 2017, two years after the coal plant is scheduled to go dark.
For Martinsville mayor Phil Deckard, that doesn’t diminish the importance of having a new plant.
“We’ve been excited all along, and of course, we were ecstatic the moment they announced it at the press conference, Deckard says. “It’s going to be a great boon for not only Martinsville but our entire Morgan County area. We’re excited about those workers who will be coming in.”
Martinsville resident Ruth Rusie can remember when Eagle Valley opened in 1949. Like the mayor, she says a new plant will benefit the town’s economy and its schools by providing tax revenue.
“It has to help,” Rusie says. “In fact I think the original schools, we have a lot of them, were built because we did have the taxes from the original plant.”
IPL says if the plant does go forward, customers would see their yearly utility rates rise two to three percent until the cost of building the plant, an estimated $630 million dollars, is paid off. In any case, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has to approve the plans if they are to proceed.
A Spokesperson says it could be almost another year before the IURC makes its decision.