Schahfer Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Rollin M. Schahfer Generating Station is a 1,943.4-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by NiSource near Wheatfield, Indiana.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Northern Indiana Public Service Company
  • Parent Company: NiSource
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,943.4 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 14: 540.0 MW (1976), Unit 15: 556.4 MW (1979), Unit 17: 423.5 MW (1983), Unit 18: 423.5 MW (1986)
  • Location: 2723 East 1500 North, Wheatfield, IN 46392
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.217012, -87.023709
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Gateway Mine (Peabody Energy), North Antelope Rochelle Mine (Peabody Energy), Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal as Thunder Basin Coal Co.)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Units 14-15 are scheduled for retirement in 2021,[1] and units 17-18 in 2023.[2]

Unit Retirements

In November 2016, NIPSCO said it planned to close two units at the power station by 2023.[3]

In September 2018, NIPSCO said it planned to close all four units at the power station by 2023.[2][4][5]

In February 2021, NIPSCO said it planned to move up the retirement of units 14-15 to 2021. The coal generation will be replaced with a combination of wind, solar, and storage capacity.[1]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 11,850,737 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 35,909 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 14,754 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 505 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Schahfer Generating Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[6] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[7]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Schahfer Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 89 $650,000,000
Heart attacks 140 $15,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,500 $78,000
Hospital admissions 65 $1,500,000
Chronic bronchitis 55 $24,000,000
Asthma ER visits 94 $35,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011


A 2016 Center for Public Integrity-USA Today-Weather Channel investigation identified the NIPSCO Schahfer plant as one of the nation’s 22 “Super Polluters” -- power plants and industrial facilities that emit the most toxic pollution and greenhouse gases in the country. Schahfer emitted 8.8 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air in 2014 and more than 1.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals.[3]

EPA "high hazard" coal waste dam

In November 2011, the EPA released a new set of coal waste data that revealed 181 “significant” hazard dams in 18 states - more than three times the 60 significant-hazard ponds listed in the original database released in 2009. In addition to the increase in the number of significant hazard-rated ponds, eight previously unrated coal ash ponds were found to be high hazard ponds in information released by the EPA earlier in 2011. Because of the switch in ratings after the EPA inspections, the total number of high hazard ponds has stayed roughly the same at a total of 47 ponds nationwide.[8]

According to the National Inventory of Dams (NID) criteria, “high” hazard coal ash ponds are categorized as such because their failure will likely cause loss of human life. Six states that gained high hazard ponds include:[8]

Dean Mitchell Station to close, pollution controls at three other plants

On January 13, 2011, the Obama administration brokered a settlement in which Northern Indiana Public Service Co. will permanently shut down an idled coal-fired power plant in Gary, Indana - the Dean Mitchell Generating Station - and spend $600 million to install and improve pollution controls at the company's three other aging electric generators - Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield, Bailly Generating Station in Chesterton, and the Michigan City Generating Station. The improvements will reduce smog- and soot-forming sulfur oxide by 46,000 tons a year and curb lung-damaging nitrogen oxide by 18,000 tons annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NIPSCO faced legal troubles for upgrading the power plants to keep them operating while failing to install modern pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review provisions. The plants avoided the toughest provisions of the law for decades, in part because regulators assumed during the 1970s that they wouldn’t be running much longer.[9]

The settlement is the 17th negotiated by the EPA and the Justice Department since Obama took office, as part of a national campaign to reduce air pollution from the oldest existing coal plants, some of which date back to the 1940s. Most of the cases have involved utilities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. NIPSCO also will pay a $3.5 million fine and spend another $9.5 million on environmental projects, including soot filters for old diesel engines, cleaner woodstoves and restoration of land next to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.[9]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "NiSource to shut down 900 MW of coal as it accelerates energy transition | S&P Global Platts". 2021-02-17. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Keith Benman, "NIPSCO will close Bailly power plant May 31, 2018," NWI, Dec 18, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 "With Announcement Today, Northwest Indiana Utility Reducing Coal Generation from 90% in 2010 to 25% by 2037," Sierra Club, November 2, 2016
  4. "Nipsco retires Bailly coal units, may add more renewables, storage," Platts, 1 Jun 2018
  5. "Breaking: NIPSCO may close all four Schahfer stations," rensselaer_republican, Sep 19, 2018
  6. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  7. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ken Ward Jr., "EPA data reveals more dangerous coal ash ponds" Coal Tattoo, Oct. 31, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Michael Hawthorne, "Deal would clear up coal-plant pollution" Chicago tribune, Jan. 13, 2011.

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