Rockport, Cook and Energy Diversity

Rockport Plant Photo

I&M's mission is to provide safe, reliable, low-cost energy to our customers. Reliability requires enough generated energy to power all of our customers' homes, businesses and factories when they are at peak demand 24/7/365. Because the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, utilities like I&M need to make sure we have enough energy available from plants powered by other resources.

The Rockport plant’s two units are each capable of generating up to 1,300 megawatts of energy – enough to power more than one million homes – at a low cost, which helps keep I&M's rates below state and national averages.

“Indiana runs on coal. Let’s apply technology and innovation to find new ways to unleash this abundant source of power by burning coal cleanly while keeping Hoosiers employed and factories humming.” Gov. Eric Holcomb, State of the State Address, Jan. 17, 2017
 

Here are answers to questions about Rockport:

Why doesn’t I&M replace the Rockport plant with renewable energy?

Replacing the Rockport’s plant’s 2,600 megawatts of energy with renewables is simply not feasible. 

 

Rockport is one of I&M’s two plants that are able to generate 24/7/365 to make sure we can meet all of our customers’ needs at peak demand – known as the “base-load”: I&M's highly efficient coal-fueled Rockport Plant in southwestern Indiana, and the Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, Mich. Rockport is needed to make sure all demand is met, especially when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

 
What about Rockport’s emissions?

The Rockport Plant meets all federal laws governing emissions. Those laws are designed to protect the environment and people, with a margin of safety. 

 

Rockport has a variety of emission-fighting technology, and the plant has reduced emissions significantly. From 2005 to 2015:

  • Mercury emissions are down 90 percent.
  • Sulfur dioxide has dropped 55 percent.
  • Nitrogen oxides are reduced by 34 percent.
 
What is I&M doing to further cut emissions?

In recent years, I&M added dry-sorbent injection technology to reduce the emissions of sulfur dioxide. I&M is currently installing selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology on Unit 1 – using the same principles of your car’s catalytic converter – to further reduce nitrogen oxides.

 
What about Unit 2?

I&M has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to determine that adding the SCR technology to Unit 2 is reasonable and necessary, just as it was for Unit 1.

 
So what is all the controversy from the Sierra Club about?

It does seem perplexing that the pro-environment Sierra Club is fighting I&M’s proposal to add emission-fighting technology. To further confuse the issue, the Sierra Club previously agreed in a modified consent decree involving the EPA, I&M’s parent company and a number of states and organizations that I&M must add the SCR technology.

 
The Sierra Club says it would be cheaper to close a Rockport unit and add more renewables.

An extensive analysis of alternatives conducted for I&M’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan shows that the lowest-cost plan for customers is to keep both Rockport units open until 2035. In its long-term plan, I&M proposes keeping both plants open – but spending some additional money on more wind and solar resources. Of course, I&M continually evaluates our long-term plan, and we remain flexible to alter plans as circumstances change to best serve our customers.

 
The Sierra Club says that this plan is way too expensive.

The actual effect on rates is expected to be about 2%.

 
Is the Rockport Plant old, like the Sierra Club says?

The Rockport Plant, built in the 1980s, is one of the youngest and most technologically-advanced coal-fueled plants in Indiana. To put its age in perspective, I&M’s Tanners Creek plant operated from 1951 to 2015.

 
What impact does the plant have in the Rockport community?

I&M contributes greatly to the community. With more than 250 employees, I&M is one of the top employers in Spencer County. Today, more than 400 contractors are on the site building the SCR for Unit 1, spending money in the community. The plant pays more than $5 million a year in property taxes alone. Rockport provides rent-free space to several local non-profits, and it provides financial and in-kind contributions to other local non-profits. The plant is the main supporter of the Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club. The plant and its employees contributed $40,000 to the local United Way for 2017.

 
Why does I&M have so many different types of generation sources?

I&M produces energy from the sun, from wind, from running water, from nuclear power and from coal. This diverse energy mix provides flexibility for I&M to adapt to changes in the market and regulatory atmosphere.

 

This robust energy mix is a major factor in I&M’s dedication to reliable service at affordable rates.

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