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Fuel Facts: Coal

Coal is a reliable and affordable fuel and consistently contributes to Indiana’s generation mix.

Coal is an abundant, reliable, and affordable energy resource for Hoosiers. In 2019, Indiana relied on coal for 53% of its electricity needs, a change from 88.5% in 2009. As energy resources for electricity are shifting and becoming more diverse, coal continues to maintain the many benefits that are essential for Indiana’s 21st century energy economy.

While conventional thermal resources like coal plants are located throughout the state, many find their homes in Southern and Southwestern Indiana which provides a strong economic base and high paying jobs for local communities.

Did You Know?

  • Indiana coal mines are reclaimed through state and federal agencies such as DNR and Federal (DOI Office of Surface Mining) agencies. Post mining, most of this land is restored for wildlife habitat and water.
  • The U.S. has 22% of world’s proven reserves of coal, more than any other country.
  • Coal holds high value for other materials like carbon fiber, graphene, building materials.

Coal's Operational Attributes

Electricity generated from coal is also cleaner now than ever before. Coal power plants have invested significant ratepayer dollars to drastically reduce emissions. The National Energy Technology Laboratory stated that a coal plant with pollution controls reduces nitrogen oxides by 83 percent, sulfur dioxide by 98 percent, and particulate matter by 99.8 percent compared to plants without controls.

Coal power plants, as any form of steam power generation, provide consistent and reliable delivery of electricity needs for Indiana’s homes and businesses. Coal power plants can produce electricity are considered baseload generation meaning they run all day, every day. This is an important attribute which makes coal plants reliable and reliability is critical, especially to support intermittent or variable energy resources.

Coal is abundant in Indiana and neighboring states thanks to the Illinois Basin. This makes coal a stable and cheaper source of energy since transportation costs are minimal. Coal in Indiana is also used to support manufacturing, one of state’s strongest economic sectors. Coal is essential to the production of steel. The high capacity factor and consistent heat rate in coal means it gives steel its strength, which is especially important for infrastructure like bridges, buildings, and automobiles.

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