Indiana Regulators Reject Vectren Plan for Gas Plant

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) on April 24 rejected Vectren’s proposal to build an 850-MW natural gas-fired power plant to replace two coal-burning units at its A.B. Brown Generating Station, along with another coal unit at a nearby plant. The commission said it based its decision on the potential financial risk to ratepayers who they said would be responsible for paying for the new plant, with its estimated $781 cost, over a 30-year period during a time of rapid change in the power generation sector.

The IURC on Wednesday posted a 38-page order on its website. It said, in part: “The proposed large scale single resource investment for a utility of Vectren South’s size does not present an outcome which reasonably minimizes the potential risk that customers could sometime in the future be saddled with an uneconomic investment or serve to foster utility and customer flexibility in an environment of rapid technological innovation.

Vectren, part of CenterPoint, was seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the IURC that would support the company’s plan to replace the coal units at the A.B. Brown plant, which came online in 1979 and 1986, respectively. The plant also includes two 88.2-MW gas-fired units.

The plant is located near the Ohio River in Posey County, southwest of Evansville. The proposed natural gas plant would have replaced the Brown station’s two 245-MW coal units, and one 90-MW coal-fired unit at the F.C. Culley plant in Warrick County.

Environmentalists opposed the project, saying even a switch from coal to natural gas would not do enough to reduce carbon emissions. Consumer advocates, like the IURC, were concerned about the project’s cost.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).