NIPSCO mulling retirement of Bailly coal fired units in 2018
As part of its regular electric supply planning process, the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) has announced that its long-term supply options may lead to the retirement of four of the company’s coal-fired electric generation units–including those at the Bailly Generating Station–over the next seven years.
NIPSCO did emphasize that its plan aren’t yet final, while outlining its electric generation strategy at a public meeting on Tuesday with consumer representatives, environmental organizations, customers, and other stakeholders taking part in Indiana’s Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process.
NIPSCO’s goal: to continue working with stakeholders and regulators to solicit input on a generation strategy that meets customer needs in a cost-effective manner, while at the same time providing ongoing work opportunities for any affected employees.
“The landscape for electric generation is shifting dramatically, not just for NIPSCO but for our nation as a whole,” NIPSCO Executive Vice-president Violet Sistovaris said. “In particular, companies with aging coal-fired units are facing intense economic and environmental regulatory pressures that are driving important decisions today about how to meet the customer needs of tomorrow. Given these factors, we believe it may be in our customers’ best interests to retire some of NIPSCO’s coal-fired generation units, and we will continue working closely with stakeholders via the IRP process to seek input and further evaluate these assumptions while considering the interests of customers, employees and local communities.”
The IRP process, conducted biennially by Indiana energy providers, is a way to plan for meeting the anticipated energy needs of customers over the next 20 years. At Tuesday’s stakeholder meeting, NIPSCO outlined an approach for continuing to provide customers with cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable supplies of electricity while addressing the inherent uncertainties and risks currently existing in the electric utility industry.
NIPSCO will submit its final IRP to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by Nov. 1 and is right now “analyzing a range of options for its existing electric generating fleet,” the company said. Different options result “in different impacts on customer costs, environmental compliance, and workforce needs.”
“Although the IRP process is still ongoing, the company believes that the most viable option for customers, the company, and employees involves the retirement of four of the company’s seven coal-fired generating units over the next seven years,” NIPSCO said.
Bailly To Be Retired?
Under this option, NIPSCO would retire its Bailly Generating Station coal-fired units as soon as mid-2018 and two of its R.M. Schahfer Generating Station coal-fired units by the end of 2023. “The company will outline strategies through the IRP process for securing alternative electric supply as necessary to continue to provide cost-effective and reliable service to customers,” NIPSCO said.
“Our goal is to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while keeping options open for the future as technologies and markets change,” Sistovaris added.
Should NIPSCO decide to proceed with retirement of its Bailly Generating Station, the company would have to seek approval from the Mid-continent Independent System Operator (MISO), which is responsible for coordinating, controlling, and monitoring the use of the electric transmission system across parts of 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, the company said. MISO would evaluate NIPSCO’s proposed plan with other capacity changes across the MISO footprint.
“NIPSCO is committed to proactively managing any potential workforce impacts related to the retirement of any of its electric generation units,” the company said, and Sistovaris stressed that “the company’s goal is to provide ongoing work opportunities for existing employees and that NIPSCO will be working closely with affected employees and union leadership to achieve that goal.”