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Windy days in NIPSCO’s future

February 4, 2019

MERRILLVILLE — When NIPSCO shuts down its Michigan City generating station in the next 10 years, along with four other coal-fired plants in the area, it will need to replace a lot of energy production capability.

And some of that will come from wind farms.

In October, the utility announced it was moving up the retirement of a majority of its remaining coal-fired generation within five years and all coal within 10 years. That would include the Michigan City plant being shut down by 2028, and four coal-fired units at the Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield within five years.

On Friday, it announced the first in a series of moves to replace some of the capacity from those plants.

NIPSCO announced the first phase of its “transition to lower-cost renewable energy resources with the addition of three new wind farms that will be based in Indiana and tied into NIPSCO’s electric system,” according to spokesman Nick Meyer.

That system serves nearly 500,000 electric customers in northern Indiana, and the announcement is part of the “Your Energy, Your Future” initiative – “a customer-centric effort focused on delivering a more affordable and sustainable energy mix,” he said.

Under the plan to be coal-free by 2028, the company expects to begin replacing coal-fired generation with a combination of wind, solar and battery storage technology.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to add more home-grown renewable energy in Indiana,” said Violet Sistovaris, NIPSCO president. “In addition to the economic benefits that projects like these add, the transition we’re making in our electric generation equates to an estimated $4 billion in cost-savings for customers over the long-term.”

NIPSCO has finalized agreements with three experienced renewable energy developers – Apex Clean Energy, EDP Renewables North America LLC and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The addition of these new projects is included in filings with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

n Jordan Creek, a 400 MW wind project to be developed and constructed by NextEra, will be located in Benton and Warren counties, near Williamsport. The project will include an estimated 160 wind turbines. NIPSCO will purchase the power directly from Jordan Creek, which will operate and maintain the facilities.

n Roaming Bison, a 300 MW wind project to be developed and constructed by Apex Clean Energy will be located in Montgomery County, near Waynetown. The project will include an estimated 107 turbines. NIPSCO will purchase the power from Roaming Bison, which will operate and maintain the facilities.

n Rosewater, a 102 MW wind project to be developed and constructed by EDP Renewables, will be located in White County. The project will include an estimated 25 turbines. EDP will construct the wind farm, and NIPSCO has entered into a joint venture and ownership agreement for the project.

The new wind capacity is expected to be in operation by late 2020, with the three projects representing about 800 megawatts of capacity, Meyer said.

Based on NIPSCO’s preferred plan, the amount of renewable energy resources to be add to its system over the next decade would more than double the amount of existing renewable energy in the entire state – a move that would put Indiana among the leading renewable producers in the nation, Sistovaris said.

The three projects were selected following a review of bids submitted through the Request for Proposal solicitation NIPSCO ran as part of its 2018 Integrated Resource Plan process – which concluded that wind and solar resources were shown to be lower cost options for customers compared to other options, Meyer said.

NIPSCO expects to announce additional renewable projects and plans to issue a second RFP later in the year, he said.

—From staff reports

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