MERRILLVILLE – Northern Indiana Public Service Co., a subsidiary of NiSource Inc., wants a shortened timeline to shut down its coal-burning power plants and move to lower-cost renewable sources for power generation.
NIPSCO discussed its tentative plan, which it is working to formalize and submit to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by Nov. 1, during a public meeting Sept. 19 with customers and consumer representatives.
The company said a new analysis shows the most viable option for its customers would include moving up retirement of most of its remaining coal-fired generation in the next five years and all coal plants within the next 10 years.
The company said generation lost from the shuttered coal plants likely would be replaced by lower-cost renewable energy resources including wind, solar and battery storage technology.
“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 Violet Sistovaris, NIPSCO president.
The timeline for NIPSCO’s five remaining coal-fired units identified in the analysis shows shuttering its R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield no later than 2023, and its Michigan City Generating Station by 2028.
Retiring the approximate 1,800 megawatts 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, NIPSCO 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,” said Sistovaris. “Retiring our aging coal fleet sooner will cost substantially less compared to our original plans for extending retirements over a longer duration.”
The company said its plan for its coal plants would not impact its natural gas-fired Sugar Creek Generating Station in West Terre Haute and the Norway and Oakdale Hydroelectric Dams along the Tippecanoe River.
NIPSCO is based in Merrillville and serves about 810,000 natural gas and 460,000 electric customers across northern Indiana.