Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) announced today that it had reached a settlement with four groups (Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Save the Valley, and Valley Watch) over disputes related to the air permits for its Edwardsport IGCC power plant in Indiana.
The Sierra Club announced that under the terms of the settlement, Duke Energy Indiana will cease burning coal at most of its Wabash River coal-fired power plant in Vigo County by 2018 and invest in new renewable energy projects. "A total of 668 megawatts of coal-fired power will come offline as a part of this agreement," according to the Sierra Club.
According to Duke Energy, the permits at the center of the matter were issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in 2008 and a dispute arose over "technical issues" regarding the permits that allowed Duke to build and operate the new plant that began commercially operating in June of this year.
As a result of the settlement, the new plant's air permits remain approved with no changes, according to Duke. However it specified a deadline of June 1, 2018, at latest, to cease burning coal at five other plants throughout western Indiana. While this will cause Duke to no longer operate its coal-fired units, it does not prevent it from converting the units to natural gas.
Finally Duke committed to explore additional use and sources of green energy. It agreed to pursue one of two options: "implement a 30-megawatt 'feed-in tariff' for solar photovoltaic energy or construct/contract for 15 megawatts of wind and/or solar generation." If it proceeds with the latter, it must retire two additional oil-fired plants by the June 2018 deadline.