Evansville-based Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC) says a 20-year plan it expects to submit to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission "points to a future that is likely less reliant on coal." The utility’s plan, which could head to state regulators next month, suggests the company would have to spend approximately $250 million to fall in line with federal regulations. Vectren says the anticipated costs have pushed it to consider alternative fuel sources for the future.
Chief Executive Officer Carl Chapman says "when looking at the energy mix Vectren will use to meet future electric demand, we considered a broad range of potential conditions and variables throughout this IRP process. Over the next several months, we will finalize our generation plan with steadfast consideration for customer bill impacts. To speculate on exactly what that will look like and the timing is premature, but it will likely include natural gas and renewable energy options, as well as our continued offering of energy efficiency programs to ensure customers are focused on using energy wisely. We would anticipate still having some reliance on coal-fired generation, albeit substantially less, which will in turn lower the carbon footprint of our generation portfolio."
More details are expected to be released by the utility in February and a full plan could be out late in the summer.
Chapman also said the plan will continue to be evaluated based on considerations of regulatory adjustments that could be made by President-elect Donald Trump’s administration and even further down the line. The company has 144,000 customers in Gibson, Dubois, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.
The IURC is expected to issue a response to long-term plans submitted by Vectren and other state-based utilities like Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and Indianapolis Power & Light Co. in summer 2017.
The environmental advocacy group Sierra Club says the plans do not go far enough, rely too heavily on gas and do not tap into enough renewable sources. The organization says Vectren’s plans could involve retirement of the A.B. Brown plant in Posey County and half of the F.B. Culley plant in Warrick County. It could also invest more in solar and replace some smaller natural gas plants with a larger one within the next 8 years.