NIPSCO gas customers' bills rise in October

Contributed By:The 411 News

Utility will retire coal generating plants sooner

Announcements from NIPSCO Thursday will have immediate and future implications for its customers and the region.

Effective October 1, NIPSCO’s residential gas customers will see 2 increases in their monthly gas bills. Charges for gas usage will increase by an average of $8 per month. The monthly customer charge will increase, from $11 to $14.

The change for individual commercial and industrial gas customers will vary depending on usage patterns, but on average, rates for overall commercial and smaller industrial customers will also increase less than the original proposal.

The newly approved rates by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will be phased in over two years. Electricity rates are not affected in this increase.

As part of its future electric supply planning process, the utility said it will move up the retirement of a majority of its remaining coal-fired generation in the next five years and all coal within the next 10 years. Likely replacement options point toward lower-cost renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and battery storage technology

While not yet final, NIPSCO outlined the option for its electric generation strategy at a public meeting with customers, consumer representatives, environmental organizations and other stakeholders taking part in the company’s Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process.

“This creates a vision for the future that is better for our customers and it’s consistent with our goal to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while maintaining reliability, diversity and flexibility for technology and market changes,” said NIPSCO president, Violet Sistovaris.

The timeline for NIPSCO’s five remaining coal-fired units identified in the analysis shows the expected retirement of its R.M. Schahfer Generating Station (Units 14, 15, 17 and 18) located in Wheatfield, Ind. no later than 2023, and its Michigan City Generating Station (Unit 12) located in Michigan City, Ind. by 2028.

Retiring the approximate 1,800 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired generation will significantly accelerate carbon reductions across the NIPSCO footprint and will result in further reductions, both in timing and magnitude, beyond previously announced targets, Sistovaris said.

“Technology and market changes continue to transform the energy industry, opening more competitive options and it’s the primary driver of the changes being considered for our system,” added Sistovaris. “Retiring our aging coal fleet sooner will cost substantially less compared to our original plans for extending retirements over a longer duration.”

Operation of NIPSCO’s existing natural gas-fired Sugar Creek Generating Station in West Terre Haute, Ind. and the Norway and Oakdale Hydroelectric Dams along the Tippecanoe River would continue.

Story Posted:09/21/2018

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