Indiana ranks 4th in nation in coal power

FILE - A coal miner wears his goggles after finishing his shift at a coal mine. (AP File Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
FILE - A coal miner wears his goggles after finishing his shift at a coal mine. (AP File Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Coal-dependent Indiana, which gets 84 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power, ranks fourth in the nation behind West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming in the amount of its power that comes from that fossil fuel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Indiana’s average retail electricity prices in 2010 ranked 13th in the nation at 7.67 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with the national average of 9.83 cents per kilowatt-hour, the EIA said.

But the state’s power prices are expected to be 14 percent higher in 2020 than they would be without new federal pollution rules, according to the State Utility Forecasting Group, a state-funded, Purdue University research group.

Even with that increase, Indiana’s power prices would remain among the cheapest in the nation.

The new Environmental Protection Agency rules are aimed at cutting soot particles that damage the lungs, smog-forming chemicals and other toxics released by the burning of coal for power.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month backed EPA limits on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and burden downwind areas with bad air from power plants they can’t control.

Environmentalists praised that ruling, saying it would save lives and cut health costs among children, the elderly and others with health problems aggravated by power plant pollution.

The Indiana Manufacturers Association said in a statement that the eventual cost impact of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling will be hard to measure.

The group, which represents some 1,400 companies, said that’s because utilities have already moved to close down some coal-fired power plants or install costly pollution controls in others in the wake of an earlier EPA rule and the agency’s new mercury emission restrictions.

“However, what this Supreme Court ruling does is embolden the EPA to be more aggressive in their rule-making, which is unfortunate and will likely lead to an increase in the cost of electricity for all Hoosiers in the future,” the group said in its statement.

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