New EPA regulations could force the closure of 65 percent of coal plants across the country, A Duke University study shows. That trend can already be seen in Indiana.
Duke Energy officials is planning to close four of its coal processing units at its Wabash River Facility in 2015. They are still deciding whether to transition a fifth unit to a natural gas processor.
Duke Energy Spokesman Lew Middleton says since 1990, Duke has spent about $2.8 billion to upgrade its Indiana facilities so they comply with EPA regulations.
“These units here at Wabash River—units two, three, four and five—are some of the oldest that we have in our system,” Middleton says. “When you do the economic analysis, it just does not make economic sense for us to install the pollution controls that would be necessary to meet the new EPA standards.”
A Duke University study shows EPA regulations, combined with the low price of natural gas, is making many older coal plants economically infeasible.
And while the price natural gas is playing a role, the study emphasizes that even if natural gas were four times as expensive as coal, producing natural gas would still be cheaper than retrofitting an old coal plant.
Citizens Action Coalition Director Kerwin Olson says regardless of the reason, shutting down coal plants is a good thing.
“The environmentally friendly choice, the best choice for public health and the best choice for our economy is transitioning away from coal to renewable energy and energy efficiency,” he says. “There’s an enormous opportunity economically to develop those resources.”
Coal is still the dominate form of energy in Indiana, and officials say that is unlikely to change for many more years.