IPL shuts down local coal plant after 85 years

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thursday marked the first day the city of Indianapolis doesn’t have coal burning. IPL shut down its Harding Street plant Wednesday after 85 years.

Residents and environmental groups fought for the change for years.

“It was just something we had to accept. It was here, we needed the power, so you live with it,” said Henry Ramsey referring to the plant that’s just blocks from his¬†house.

The massive plant overshadows Ramsey’s southwest side neighborhood. It’s plume was synonymous with the neighborhood since 1931.

“All the dust and pollution gets on the cars and everything,” said Ramsey.

Indianapolis officials say the plant was Marion County’s biggest source of air pollution.

“For probably more than 100 years coal has been burned in this city whether by IPL or by people to heat their homes,” said Jodi Perras of the Sierra Club, which fought for the conversion.

IPL first announced its decision to convert the plant to natural gas in August 2014.

Ken Zagzebski, the president of AES United States, IPL’s parent company, issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:

This conversion project is beneficial for our customers and for the community as it will significantly reduce emissions and it is the most reasonable cost way to comply with environmental regulations. We remain focused on our mission to improve lives by providing safe, sustainable, affordable and reliable power to the Indianapolis community and will do so with a balanced approach of upgrading existing plants, converting units from coal to natural gas, replacing retiring units with natural gas and using solar power while also utilizing state-of-the-art battery technologies for grid reliability.

Energy companies across the country are undertaking similar conversions.

“The country is shifting away from coal to cleaner forms of energy and really its a great opportunity to look at whats next,” said Perras.

The conversion is expected to be complete in April. IPL says customers should expect a 3 percent increase in their bills through 2018.

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