Utlities analyst questions NIPSCO renewable energy strategy


The plan by government-protected Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) to move toward a completely renewable energy strategy over the next 10 years has at least one analyst shaking his head.

NIPSCO plans to install the wind and solar systems over the next 10 years, closing two functioning coal plants that currently supply electricity to its customers.

“It was solar that I just thought was fascinating that OK if this was a utility in Arizona OK, I get it, but in Northern Indiana?" Travis Miller, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. told Indiana Business Daily. "I’ve been in the industry a long time and knew that prices were coming down, but even they [NIPSCO] were surprised how the bids were and came in that low for solar.”

While over time, NIPSCO said the installation of the renewable systems would be cheaper for its customers, a 12 percent electricity price rate hike is expected near-term, according to a report by The Heartland Institute.

In the coal state of Indiana, which ranks seventh in the nation for coal production, utility prices are below the national average by as much as 10 percent, according to Heartland.

NICPSCO is not alone in its efforts to reduce its coal-dependency, but the rate that it is moving toward its goal is significantly quicker than most other utilities in the U.S.

Miller said the plan proposed by NIPSCO is drastic.

“Nobody that I am aware of is doing it this aggressively, you know to be out of it in 10 years,” Miller said.

NIPSCO is hinging its renewables plan on solar as the costs to implement these systems was significantly cheaper in the bid proposal. 

NIPSCO said it expects a $4 billion savings over the next few decades with increased upfront costs for wind, solar, and battery-powered equipment installation. However, the savings on the backend have been deemed prospective and when  plan has been called hopeful and 

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