Dear Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Michigan Power,
Indiana Michigan Power must take urgent action for the health and wellbeing of our Hoosier communities. We pray and call on Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) to support a clean-energy future.
Faith leaders are proclaiming that the time is now to act for clean air, a stable climate, and a more sustainable economy. Pope Francis, in his 180-page encyclical on the environment, issued a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels. On September 1, 2015, people of faith came together for the first widely held World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Jewish and Muslim leaders from across the globe and within the United States are also demanding action on climate change.
In Indiana, faith leaders both helped lead a succesful campaign in Indianapolis to stop burning coal within the city limits and helped stop House Bill 1320, legislation that would have effectively taken away the freedom of houses of worship and families to harness the power of the sun to produce their own electricity.
Across the state, congregations are becoming energy efficient , installing solar panels, and teaching their members and communities about creation care theology.
We call on I&M to retire at least half of the generating capacity of the dirty and expensive AEP Rockport coal-fired power plant in Spencer County, Indiana by 2020. This plant is the sixth largest toxic chemical polluter in Indiana and is the tenth largest carbon polluter in the nation. The plant released 5.8 million pounds of toxic pollution into Indiana’s air and water in 2013 alone, including dumping nearly 13,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into the Ohio River including emissions known to harm human health like arsenic, mercury, and lead (Toxic Release Inventory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
While Indiana’s environment and public health suffers, Indiana’s economy languishes. The Rockport plant drains hundreds of millions of dollars out of the I&M service area from communities like Fort Wayne, South Bend, Elkhart, and Muncie. Out-of-state coal purchases in 2013 cost customers $400 million, money that left Indiana to never return to the state. I&M also spends over $170 million each year to operate the Rockport plant, even though it is hundreds of miles away from people using and paying for the electricity. Worse yet, some of Rockport’s coal comes from mountaintop removal mining, a practice that has destroyed 500 Appalachian mountains, one million acres of forest and buried 2,000 streams.
Today, only three percent of I&M’s Power comes from renewable energy and there is only a commitment to grow that to 8 percent by 2033. Meanwhile, Indiana Michigan Power has been instrumental at the Statehouse in disbanding the successful state mandated energy efficiency program Energize Indiana and tried to undermine Indiana’s net-metering policy in 2015 at the statehouse. This is not acceptable! In Micah 6:8, a piece of scripture that resonates across different faiths, the prophet Micah warns us to do justice and to love mercy. Unfortunately, I&M’s plans for Indiana leave much to be desired on this front.
Faith leaders in your service-territory are calling on you to take these steps towards a clean-energy future for Indiana. We look forward to a continued dialogue with you, and the release of your 20 year energy plan.