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AEP to close huge coal-burning power unit by Dec. 2028

American Electric Power has agreed to install more effective pollution controls sooner on its Rockport coal plant while also committing to retire one of the largest coal-burning power units in the country by December 2028.

This modification modifies and moves up emission reduction requirements at the two 1,300-megawatt units at the Rockport power plant in Spencer County, Indiana.

The closure of the unit removes nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, according to an EPA report. It’s similar to taking close to two million cars off the road.

The modified consent decree requires that:

• AEP must retire Rockport Unit 1 by no later than December 31, 2028. At a size of 1,300 MW, this would be the largest single coal-burning unit to announce retirement since the environmental organization Sierra Club began its campaign to shut down existing coal plants in 2010.

• AEP will install and operate enhanced DSI (dry sorbent injection) technology on both Rockport units and meet new emission limits that will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by at least 58 percent.

• Starting in 2021, the Rockport plant will have an annual 10,000-ton cap on SO2 emissions — eight years earlier than the previous cap. In 2029, after Rockport 1 retires, the annual SO2 cap will be ratcheted down to 5,000 tons — half the limit under the previous consent decree.

• AEP will also provide $3.5 million in funding to support projects that will promote energy efficiency, distributed generation, and pollution reduction measures for nonprofits, governmental entities, low-income residents and/or other entities selected by public interest plaintiffs.

“This agreement is a substantial step in the right direction, reducing emissions and ensuring the retirement of a significant source of pollution in Indiana,” said Margrethe Kearney, Senior Attorney with the Midwest-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, counsel for eleven of the Citizen Groups.

The agreement modifies a requirement that Rockport Unit 2, which is owned by several out-of-state corporations, must be equipped with flue gas desulfurization technology to remove sulfur dioxide.

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