IPL announces new $600M Martinsville natural gas plant

IPL's Harding St. station

Indianapolis Power & Light Co. announced Wednesday that it's moving forward on plans to build a $600 million natural gas plant near Martinsville.

IPL will also spend $36 million converting two units at its Harding Street station on the Indianapolis south side from coal to natural gas.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approved IPL's request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), which allows IPL to make the investment.

IPL says by 2017, its reliance on coal-fired generation will have decreased to 54% from nearly 80% ten years before "with natural gas, wind, solar and oil powering the rest of our customers' needs."

The utility estimates that the new Martinsville plant will generate around 650 megawatts of electricity, while reducing the rate of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter emissions by more than 98 percent. That's compared to the equipment that IPL is retiring. IPL says virtually all mercury, lead and fluoride emissions will be eliminated, and water use will be reduced by 97 percent.

The new plant will be located in Morgan County at IPL's Eagle Valley Generating Station, five miles north of Martinsville. IPL says it will create 660 construction jobs and 25 permanent positions. Construction starts this summer and will be complete by 2017.

The Harding Street conversion will begin in fall 2015 and will be finished by early 2016.