I&M Planning Big Infrastructure Upgrades

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Fort Wayne-based Indiana Michigan Power is seeking regulatory approval for a $787 million infrastructure improvement plan in Indiana. The upgrades would begin in 2015 and take seven years to complete. October 14, 2014

News Release

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Indiana Michigan Power plans to significantly enhance our infrastructure system that serves over 458,000 customers in Indiana and help grow the economies of the communities we serve with a comprehensive, seven-year infrastructure project.

As proposed, I&M's Reliability Enhancement Program would include:

-Replacement of hundreds of miles of electric cable.

-Replacement of thousands of poles.

-Substantial improvement of metropolitan underground networks in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Elkhart and Muncie.

-An improved line clearance plan to help reduce power outages caused by trees and branches.

-Technology investments that will reduce the number of outages and speed restoration times.

-Important new substations in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Muncie.

The company is seeking regulatory approval to invest approximately $787 million in its Indiana infrastructure over the seven-year period beginning in 2015.

"I&M exhaustively examined our entire system to determine where replacing and updating our aging infrastructure would best enhance our ability to continue to provide reliable, affordable energy to our valued customers," said Paul Chodak III, I&M’s President and Chief Operating

Officer.

"Enhanced reliability is important not only to our existing customers but for the economic development of our communities. The availability of affordable, reliable power is key to keeping existing businesses and attracting new ones," he said.

"I&M's Reliability Enhancement Program will not only improve reliability in the near term, but also result in a better infrastructure that will well-serve our customers for decades.”

I&M employees and contractors will replace poles, wires and other infrastructure that in many cases is decades old with modern, state-of-the art equipment. In addition to the overhead lines our customers see every day, crews will also reinforce reliability in our underground metropolitan networks with updated wiring and configurations.

New substations will reinforce the electric grid in I&M’s service areas and directly serve both planned and future economic development projects:

-Oliver Plow substation in South Bend will primarily serve the Notre Dame

Turbomachinery Facility, which is planned to open in 2016 and will be the nation’s foremost research and test facility for large gas turbine engines.

-Kenmore substation in Muncie replaces a decades-old substation near Ball State University with state-of-the-art technology capable of sustaining existing and future demand in the area.

-Aviation substation off Ardmore Avenue in Fort Wayne will help ensure a reliable energy supply for the new BAE Systems facility as well as serve future growth in the Waynedale and Fort Wayne International Airport area.

-Melita substation just south of downtown Fort Wayne will replace an aging substation that has decades-old equipment with a modern station that will strengthen the reliability for downtown service and accommodate future downtown growth.

Both the Oliver Plow and Melita substations will make productive use of brownfield sites unsuitable for residential housing.

If approved as filed, I&M’s Reliability Enhancement Program will strengthen reliability while impacting customers’ bills modestly, by a little less than 1 percent per year on average.

I&M’s filing with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission falls under Senate Enrolled Act 560 from the 2013 Indiana Legislative Session, which allows utilities to plan and finance significant infrastructure improvements over seven years and to lessen the impact on customers through smaller, annual rate increases for necessary infrastructure enhancements.

Source: Indiana Michigan Power