Continuously improving the reliability, affordability and the environmental footprint of electricity are at the heart of what we do every day at Indiana Michigan Power. I&M already generates more than half the power consumed by our customers with zero emissions, and we remain focused on further improving environmental performance. However, we must reduce in a way that our customers can afford.
I&M’s Rockport Generation Plant is the second largest coal-fueled plant in Indiana – its two units generate enough electricity to power about 1.8 million homes. Not surprisingly, a plant that size produces significant emissions – and I&M has already invested in emission controls and significantly reduced those emissions. Yet, I&M’s rates have remained below state and national averages because we have made cost-effective environmental technology investments.
Some special interest groups are trying to publicly pressure I&M to close its Rockport plant. However, a truly informed conversation requires accurate information, and we believe our customers deserve the full details.
Many of the arguments leveled against I&M and Rockport were based on misconstruing information from I&M’s most recent biannual generation resource planning process. This involved thoughtful conversations over many months with varied stakeholders and customers – including groups intent on shutting down coal plants. Like any study that projects two decades into the future, the results are based on a variety of assumptions taken from a snapshot in time.
The scenario defined as the "preferred" plan would keep the lights on, comply with all environmental regulations and accelerate renewable development. Compliance with federal EPA regulations could require I&M to make about $3 billion of capital investments for additional Rockport emission controls over the 20 years. Some critics have inaccurately suggested the "preferred" plan rejects renewables. On the contrary, the "preferred" plan also significantly reduces emissions by tripling our wind sources and increasing our solar generation by 4,000 percent.
Importantly, as we embrace renewable resources, we remain mindful that customers need electricity even during events like the 2014 polar vortex, when solar panels were covered in snow and the wind was unreliable. Since large-scale energy storage currently remains cost-prohibitive, around-the-clock reliability requires enough nuclear, natural gas or coal plant capacity to meet essentially 100 percent of peak demand. Consequently, additional renewable energy will increase I&M’s costs, but we believe some cost is justified by the reduction in emissions.
However, perhaps the most important thing about the "preferred" plan is that we will generate another "preferred" 20-year plan in less than two years. I&M will continue to evaluate options for providing customers with reliable, clean and affordable electricity now and into the future.
I&M’s commitment is simple: We will keep the lights on and our rates affordable while continuing to protect the environment. We will remain flexible to changing regulations, business developments affecting our industry and customer needs. I&M will also continue to engage with our customers and other stakeholders as we strive to continually adapt to change.