Indiana utility to close 3 coal plants, add solar, gas

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — One of Indiana's largest electric utilities plans to shut down three coal-fired power plants in the next five years as it adds a new natural gas plant and solar farm to its energy-generation mix.

Vectren's estimated $900 million natural gas plant in Posey County will have 800 to 900 megawatts, The Evansville Courier & Press reported.

The $70 million to $75 million solar plant will have 50 megawatts and will include 150,000 panels on nearly 300 acres (121 hectares).

Vectren plans to close the coal-fired plants and exit joint ownership of a Warrick County facility with Alcoa by 2023, when the natural gas plant is expected to begin service. The utility is seeking approval for the new plant from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Carl Chapman, chairman, president and CEO, said if the projects are approved, the company's carbon emissions will decrease 60 percent in the future.

"This decade-long generation portfolio transition will meet growing demand to provide cleaner energy for our region while maintaining the reliability our customers deserve and have come to expect," Chapman said.

The natural gas facility would be operated by the company's employees. Vectren is finalizing negotiations with an entity to run the solar farm that's expected to start production by 2020.

The Evansville-based company provides electrical service to 144,000 homes and businesses in seven southwestern Indiana counties.