Letter from the Executive Director
We have reached a financial and technological tipping point. At a savings to ratepayers,
we can phase out coal-fired power by 2050 and eliminate 30% of our nuclear capacity
using existing wind, energy efficiency, solar, geothermal, natural gas and biomass
We have been told differently by coal and nuclear industry ad campaigns, but coal and
nuclear power plants are a huge ball and chain around the neck of our economy. They
are the two most expensive and dangerous ways to produce electricity. They require
mining practices that leave devastation in their wake. Their construction requires
enormous taxpayer and ratepayer largesse that inevitably culminates in massive cost
overruns. Their operation causes death and disease for thousands of American citizens
each year and associated tens of billions in health related costs. Not only are these
technologies a horrific burden on wallets and health, they are effectively obsolete at this
time. The problem is they also represent over 70% of electric generation in the country.
As a result, it will take some time to rid ourselves of them.
This also begs the question: If we can stop the carnage, why is there no systematic phase
out plan? Well, our energy policy is being driven by ad campaigns and government
relinquishing its policymaking responsibilities to people who think on a quarterly basis.
There is no way we can sustain sensible public policies with entrenched utility
companies, coal companies, oil companies and nuclear companies driving the process. I
heard barely a word about renewables and efficiency during the Congressional debate on
energy policy. All I heard was how we can accommodate the coal, nuclear and oil
industries. The Democrats were pushing business as usual and spinning it as a
progressive agenda. The Republicans were attacking Republican concepts. An
Orwellian moment to be sure.
At the state level, there is no real institutional and statutory support for energy efficiency
or renewable energy. There is only spotty and insufficient support that would never
create the necessary market transformation. A statewide, uniform program for energy
efficiency is currently being negotiated. This is definitely a step in the right direction and
may ultimately create much stronger institutional and financial support for a sustained
statewide program. However, the outcome of the negotiations and ongoing, sustained
political support for the program, at this point, remains unclear.
This year we will explore state policies that tend to cement coal as Indiana’s primary
electric generation resource and the issues and problems surrounding the currently
proposed build-out of the nuclear fleet in the context of the demise of the Marble Hill
nuclear plant. We will also consider how lessons learned in the Marble Hill fight can be
applied to the coal gasification plant under construction at Edwardsport, IN.
CAC Executive Director
These are the issues of immediate importance we are working on right now.