American Electric Power Commits to Retire Largest Coal Unit in Beyond Coal Campaign History

U.S. District Judge Approves Settlement retiring 1,300 MW of coal burning power at Rockport Plant.

Ricky Junquera, 617.599.7048,

COLUMBUS, OH - AEP Corp. has agreed to install more effective pollution controls sooner on its Rockport Super Polluting coal plant while also committing to retire Unit 1 by December 2028, under a legal agreement signed by a federal judge today.

U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus approved the fifth joint modification to a 2007 consent decree that involved air pollution violations at several AEP plants in the Midwest. 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

“Community leaders and advocates in South Bend, Muncie, and Fort Wayne have been organizing against the Rockport coal-burning power plant for five years. Together we amassed support from local elected officials, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, and sent a unified message to AEP Indiana Michigan Power,” said Rev. Kimberly Koczan, a Board Member of Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light and Sierra Club volunteer.  “We all came together with the common goal of asking I&M to stop burning coal, and start developing clean renewable energy. This signed agreement is a large step in the right direction and we will continue to push until that transition to clean, renewable energy is complete.”

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 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.    
    • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, short-term exposures to SO2 can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult. People with asthma, particularly children, are sensitive to these effects of SO2 and will benefit the most. 

“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 parties filed the consent decree modification with Judge Sargus on May 29, 2019. 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. Judge Sargus signed the modification today, putting it into effect.

Background: Parties in the case included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice; States of New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts; Sierra Club; NRDC, Ohio Citizen Action, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Hoosier Environmental Council, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Environmental Council, Clean Air Council, Izaak Walton League of America, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and League of Ohio Sportsmen.

Retirement of Unit 1 at the Rockport Super Polluter signifies 1,300 megawatts of coal-burning power coming off line, and is the largest single unit to retire in the country. That is nine million metric tons (based on 2009 data from EPA) of carbon dioxide out of our air, and would be like taking close to two million cars off the road.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit