As Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) prepares its 20-year energy plan, constituents from the three major cities in I&M’s service territory have been asking their public leaders to support a shift to renewable energy through a sign-on letter.
So far, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and a majority of city council members in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Muncie have responded to constituent requests by signing letters asking Indiana Michigan Power to invest in renewable energy in its 20-year energy plan.
"We as duly elected officials need to support our constituents and our community efforts to encourage I&M to make investments in renewable energy in their future plans,” said Glynn Hines, Fort Wayne City Councilmember (District 6). “It is a fact that the carbon footprint is expanding and we as a society need to secure solar and wind alternatives to fossil fuels and coal for energy. I stand with the Sierra Club as they seek to inform I&M and our community as to the urgent need to take positive steps to reduce the carbon footprint."
I&M is preparing a 20-year plan for providing electricity to its customers. The plan will be finalized early next year and submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. CEO Toby Thomas has said I&M expects to phase out the Rockport plant by 2028, creating possibilities for renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage to be built to replace the obsolete and expensive coal plant.
“We have been told of the growing number of utilities in the United States who have moved to using renewable sources for a significant amount of their energy production. In a number of instances, the driving factor for this shift has been financial, as well as environmental. It is our understanding that it can cost less in upkeep and maintenance to generate energy from renewable sources than conventional sources, especially as the cost of solar units have plummeted in recent years,” said the Fort Wayne City Council sign-on letter.
Just last week, NIPSCO, the electricity provider in Northwest Indiana, announced tentative plans to retire their two remaining coal pants by 2028, including the Super Polluter Schahfer plant in Wheatfield. NIPSCO executives also said that computer modeling indicates the most affordable, reliable and least risky replacement would involve a combination of wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage.
Also last week, I&M’s sister company, AEP Ohio, requested approval from Ohio regulators to build 900 megawatts of renewable energy to replace their coal fleet. AEP also announced plans this week to retire its Oklaunion coal plant in Vernon, Texas, by 2020 because it cannot compete on the market.
Jake Teshka, South Bend City Councilmember (District 6) said, “Renewable energy is vital for our future both in terms of our environment and our economic well-being. I hope to see investments from I&M in renewable energy like we have seen from their parent company AEP in Ohio."
NIPSCO and I&M each operate one of Indiana’s five Super Polluters. A study by the Center for Public Integrity, in conjunction with The Weather Channel and USA Today, found that Indiana has five of the top 22 Super Polluting industrial facilities in the country