The Evansville energy company that serves 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana has released a transition plan that phases out most coal-fired power and replaces it with natural gas and solar.
Vectren says its plan will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by retiring three coal-fired plants and retrofitting one remaining coal unit so it's in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Vectren says its ‘Smart Energy Future’ strategy includes creating one of the largest solar farms in the region with 150,000 panels on 300 acres. The $70 million solar project is expected to generate energy in about two years. It will complement two smaller solar projects being built this year.
A major part of what Vectren describes as a cleaner, well-balanced and reliable energy mix includes a new $900 million natural gas plant that will begin operating in 2023. It will create 600 jobs during construction and 35 full-time jobs when it goes online. The natural gas facility has to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
Vectren is also exploring options related to closing coal ash ponds, which contain waste from the coal-fired plants. Action on the coal ash ponds is triggered by EPA mandates. Vectren is examining possibilities for recycling the material. Some of that material is currently being shipped by barge to a cement manufacturing facility in Missouri.