Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. LLC says an analysis suggests the utility could eliminate its use of coal within 10 years. The analysis is part of NIPSCO’s future electric supply planning process and indicates the most viable option for customers would be to retire the majority of its remaining coal-fired generation units in five years and end use of all coal by 2028. The utility cites other energy resources such as wind, solar, and battery storage technology as replacement options for coal.
The analysis shows NIPSCO’s four remaining coal-fired units at its R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield could be retired no later than 2023 and the unit at its Michigan City Generating Station by 2028. NIPSCO says the units total approximately 1,800 megawatts of electricity and retiring them will significantly accelerate carbon reductions throughout its service area.
The utility’s existing natural gas-fired facility in West Terre Haute and hydroelectric dams along the Tippecanoe River would continue operation under the plan.
"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, president of NIPSCO. "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. Retiring our aging coal fleet sooner will cost substantially less compared to our original plans for extending retirements over a longer duration."
NIPSCO says plans have not yet been finalized, but officials are working to complete the utility’s Integrated Resource Planning process, which it plans to submit to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in November. The IRP is an update to a similar one filed in 2016, which would have reduced NIPSCO’s coal-fired capabilities by 50 percent.
You can learn more about the utility’s IRP process by clicking here.