NIPSCO Announces Three New Indiana Wind Farms

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO), which is phasing out coal-fired power as part of its “Your Energy, Your Future” plan announced late last year, on Feb. 1 said it will develop three new wind farm projects in the state that will add about 800 MW of renewable power generation capacity to its portfolio.

The Merrillville, Ind.-based utility on Friday said the wind farms will be sited in Benton, Montgomery, and White counties. NIPSCO said the projects are partnerships between the utility and private companies, and were chosen after NIPSCO last year issued a request for proposals (RFP) for alternative energy generation.

Violet Sistovaris, NIPSCO’s president, in a statement said, “We’re excited for the opportunity to add more home-grown renewable energy in Indiana. In addition to the economic benefits that projects like these add, the transition we’re making in our electric generation equates to an estimated $4 billion in cost-savings for customers over the long-term.”

The utility said it received 90 proposals for energy projects, including 70 sited within the state. NIPSCO said it expects to issue another RFP this year, asking for renewable energy projects.

Coal Units Closing

NIPSCO plans to close the last four coal units at its 1,943-MW Schahfer Generating Station near Wheatfield, Ind., by year-end 2023. It has said it will retire another coal unit at the Michigan City Generating Station in Michigan City, Ind., by year-end 2028. NIPSCO in 2018 retired the two coal-fired units at its 604-MW Bailly Generating Station plant in Chesterton, Ind.

The utility in its strategic plan announced last year said the long-term cost of coal generation, including for fuel and plant maintenance, was higher than the cost of alternative resources such as wind, solar, and battery storage.

The wind farm projects have been submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for approval. NIPSCO said it expects the projects will begin commercial operation by late 2020.

The projects include Jordan Creek, 400-MW wind farm that will be developed and built by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources in Benton and Warren counties, near Williamsport. It will feature about 160 wind turbines. NIPSCO will purchase power directly from the facility under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). NextEra already operates a 120-MW wind farm in Jay and Randolph counties in Indiana.

Roaming Bison is a 300-MW wind project with an estimated 107 turbines that will be developed and built by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy in Montgomery County, near Waynetown. NIPSCO also has a 20-year PPA with the facility.

“NIPSCO is taking advantage of strong, local wind resources and low generation costs to accelerate the shift from aging coal plants,” Apex President and CEO Mark Goodwin said in a statement as his company announced the project. “At the same time, the vital community support shown by the residents of Montgomery County will yield tremendous returns in terms of economic benefits—both to the county and to landowners involved in the project.”

The third project is the 102-MW Rosewater, which will be developed and built by EDP Renewables North America, a subsidiary of Madrid, Spain-based EDP Renewables. The project will include about 25 turbines. EDP and NIPSCO entered into a joint venture to own the facility, with a contract that allows for NIPSCO to assume full ownership. EDP Renewables North America already operates two Indiana wind farms, in White and Benton counties, that combined have generation capacity of 700 MW.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).