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NIPSCO Plans for Energy Needs of Tomorrow

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

As northern Indiana enters 2017, the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will help guide NIPSCO as the utility continues providing safe, reliable energy not just for next year but all the way through 2037. 

Nationwide, the electric industry is in the midst of unprecedented change. Technology is advancing, customer needs are evolving, natural gas production continues to influence energy market prices, environmental compliance regulation is expanding and all the while infrastructure is aging. Since earlier in 2016, public meetings and other advisory efforts have kept the public involved as the IRP took shape.

 

The goal of the IRP is to identify a long-term plan for continuing to provide customers with cost-effective, reliable, flexible and sustainable supplies of electricity while addressing the inherent uncertainties and risks that exist in the electric utility industry.  

NIPSCO’s 2016 IRP lays out where we are now what needs to be done to prepare for the residential, commercial and industrial needs of its customers. The IRP covers the next twenty years, through 2037, to address the issues that will soon face the utility as it continues its mission of providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to its more than 464,000 residential and business customers. 

That number will grow to 511,000 by 2037, meaning more power will be needed to meet demand. Meeting that demand will require changes, some already underway, in how NIPSCO produces energy. 

NIPSCO’s current supply includes:

         Coal (currently 66% of total capacity)

         Natural Gas (currently 20% of total capacity)

         Hydroelectric

         Wind

         Demand-side resources

 

As part of the IRP, NIPSCO analyzed a range of options for its existing electric generating fleet, while evaluating the unique impacts on customer costs, environmental compliance, communities and workforce needs. 

Based on a combination of those factors, the results led to a plan that will include the retirement of four of the company’s seven coal-fired electric generating units at two different power plants over the next seven years roughly 50 percent of the power it currently produces from coal. 

NIPSCO has already been diversifying its fuel mix by shifting away from coal-fired power generation - down from 90% in 2010 to 66% in 2015. NIPSCO has also invested more than $800 million in new technologies for coal-fired units to improve air quality and the company purchases and provides credits to customers that generate their own electricity from renewable sources.

Within the plan, the Bailly Generating Station coal-fired units, which recently received approval to be closed, will shut down in May of 2018. Two more units are planned to be shut down at R.M. Schahfer Generating Station by 2023.  

NIPSCO estimates that continuing to upgrade aging facilities instead of building for the future would cost an addition $1 billion over the next seven years. As the above listed stations are retired, NIPSCO expects to be able to meet demand with its existing resources through 2019. Beyond that, the electric supply can be maintained by purchasing power on the open market while NIPSCO considers and pursues new options, such as the construction of a gas-fired power plant, for example.   

Long term, the company continues to assess replacement generation options that will best allow it to continuing carrying out its mission for its customers. One option given as a likely avenue of development is combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT), although the IRP indicates that future planning will be flexible to account for further developments in the years to come.

 

For further information on NIPSCO’s IRP, visit www.NIPSCO.com/IRP