Northern Indiana Public Service Company LLC (NIPSCO), a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), announced today plans to retire two coal-fired units representing half of its R.M. Schahfer Generating Station capacity in Wheatfield, Ind. by the end of 2021.
The retirements are part of NIPSCO’s broader, long-term electric generation strategy and customer-centric plan referred to as “Your Energy, Your Future.” The strategy outlines the company’s plans to become 100 percent coal-free by 2028, while transitioning to reliable, lower-cost and more sustainable energy options. NIPSCO projects the transition will result in an estimated $4 billion in cost savings over the long term.
The Schahfer Generating Station coal-fired units 14 and 15, designated for retirement this year, are among the oldest in NIPSCO’s fleet having been in service since 1976 and 1979 respectively. NIPSCO’s remaining coal-fired units are currently on track to be retired as previously announced, with the Schahfer Generating Station retiring by May 2023 and the Michigan City Generating Station by the end of 2028. These timelines are consistent with the previous Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) conducted in 2018 – a regulatory process used in Indiana to thoroughly analyze and outline how electric utilities plan to meet the future electric needs of its customers. Workforce planning is underway with the goal to minimize impacts to positions and employees.
“Our ‘Your Energy, Your Future’ transition plan is dynamic, and based on the simple premise of delivering reliable energy and cost savings to our customers over the long term,” said Mike Hooper, NIPSCO President. “We continue to evaluate the economics of our generating fleet, including recently commissioned renewables projects and secured capacity in the greater energy market alongside the ongoing fuel costs and investments required to operate our coal fired units. On that basis, it was determined that retiring units 14 and 15 this year was the best decision for customers.”
To deliver on its promise of service reliability for its customers, NIPSCO has secured the needed lower-cost capacity from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market – the regional entity responsible for ensuring reliability across the broader electric grid – along with additional upgrades to its transmission system to reliably retire units 14 and 15. NIPSCO is also bringing online new lower-cost generating resources from solar, wind and battery technology -more-to meet its customers’ future energy needs.
Two wind projects, Rosewater located in White County and Jordan Creek located in Benton and Warren counties, became operational in late 2020, adding 500 MW of installed capacity to NIPSCO’s fleet. The Indiana Crossroads wind project is expected to provide an additional 300 MW by the end of 2021.
NIPSCO kicks off its 2021 IRP process in March, which includes a public forum involving participation and input from customers, consumer representatives, environmental organizations and other stakeholders that will extend through November, when the latest plan will be submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).