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Defending Indiana Ratepayers From Costly, Aging Coal Plants

Transmission lines in Indiana.

Transmission lines in Indiana.

Photo courtesy of Michael Kappel

What's at Stake

The Commission approved passing the costs of the roughly $90 million in projects on to ratepayers without first determining whether they are needed and in the public interest.

Vectren customers have the highest utility bills in the State of Indiana. Vectren’s high electricity costs place a crushing burden on low-income families.

Overview

In January 2015, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission granted permission for Vectren South to collect and spend nearly $90 million of ratepayer money to maintain five aging coal units: A.B. Brown units 1 and 2, F.B. Culley units 2 and 3 and Warrick Unit 4. Vectren, which provides electricity to approximately 140,000 customers in southwestern Indiana, had already spent over $400 million to upgrade these power plants, and asked the IURC for another $90 million to continue to operate the units.

The Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Valley Watch and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, intervened in this case to ensure the most efficient use of Indiana ratepayers’ money by prioritizing cheaper, cleaner alternatives over expensive, polluting power plants.

Evidence in the case showed that Vectren ignored its own analysis that cheaper alternatives are available. Vectren’s own analysis showed that ratepayers would save $125 million over 20 years if Vectren had invested in natural gas generation rather than dumping more money into its aging plants.

Vectren customers have the highest utility bills in the State of Indiana, paying more than $150 a month for the average home using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Vectren’s high electricity costs are placing a crushing burden on low-income families in our community, and forcing hard choices on the most vulnerable amongst us. In Evansville, 46 percent of working families are struggling to cover their monthly expenses, according to the United Way’s ALICE study. The proposal to spend $90 million on its aging coal fleet would only force Vectren customers in the Evansville area to pay even more on their electricity bills.

The Indiana Court of Appeals struck down approval of Vectren’s plan in October 2015.

Case Updates