MERRILLVILLE – Generating cleaner electricity from renewable energy projects and upgrading its power grid to support the transmission and monitoring of this electricity are a few key factors leading to NIPSCO’s filing with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to adjust its basic electricity tariffs next year. NIPSCO is a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI).
“The investments we make provide direct benefits to all of our customers, the communities we serve and the local economy,” said Mike Hooper, president of NIPSCO. “Beyond the necessary upgrades, network modernization and customer-centric improvements that are essential to guarantee the level of service that our customers expect for the future, a significant part of the investments is related to our future energy transition and the addition of new renewable energy projects located in Indiana.
NIPSCO is transitioning to a more balanced and reliable portfolio. The transition includes renewable energy generation, which represents approximately $840 million in new investments through 2023. In turn, customers benefit directly by receiving a credit on their bills for 100% of the revenue associated with the sale of excess electricity currently generated by the existing system. renewable projects and sales of upcoming additions. We currently expect this benefit to be $50 million per year, depending on the amount of energy ultimately produced from these sources.
“While there are short-term costs associated with the investments made to get our wind and solar projects off the ground, customers are already benefiting from these existing renewable projects and will continue to see cost savings increase over the long term as we go live. able to eliminate the costs associated with operating our remaining coal-fired power plants by 2026-2028,” added Hooper.
The company is also investing approximately $700 million in electrical transmission and distribution system upgrades, technology enhancements, and safety and reliability initiatives are to be completed by the end of 2023, with plans for similar investments in the future.
Other customer benefits associated with this rate increase request:
NIPSCO seeks to strengthen its commitment to its customers in several ways, including:
- Offer new bill payment assistance programs for income-eligible customers, with a part funded by NIPSCO
- Pursue investments to thwart and protect its electrical network against cybersecurity threats
- Upgrade and replacement of overhead and underground cables to increase reliability
- Modernize the power grid with automated technology that identifies problems and outages to enable us to restore service more quickly
- Improve the overall customer experience through the introduction of a new mobile app, as well as the ability for customers to connect with online customer service agents via live or automated chat, the pursuit of energy efficiency programs and more.
How will residential customer bills evolve?
As a regulated energy supplier, NIPSCO cannot change the rates or fees charged to its customers without IRC approval. NIPSCO’s natural gas prices are not affected by this request.
Based on NIPSCO’s proposal, an average residential electric customer using 668 kilowatt hours (kwh) per month, paying about $120 today, would see an overall increase of about $19 per month, or about 16.5%, spread over several years.
The change would start happening by September 2023, with the remaining changes being applied in March 2024 and July 2024.
As the company retires its remaining coal-fired generation, the costs associated with operating and maintaining these facilities during the transition to more renewable resources will decrease and eventually be eliminated. This proposition ensures that customers only pay costs as they are incurred by NIPSCO, and the associated savings of approximately $6 per month will be passed directly to customers, providing a real-time benefit to customers.
Actual projected bill impacts may vary by customer, including non-residential customers, depending on usage and potential future changes in market prices for products such as coal.
Bill payment assistance and energy savings programs are available.
As the current economic effects of inflation and the pandemic are felt, it is important to know that help continues to be available. Bill payment assistance programs are available for customers in financial difficulty, including low-income customers.
Outside of state and federal energy assistance programs and the moratorium on winter service disconnections, NIPSCO provides funding for an additional bill reduction program, credit agreements, budget plans, and reduced deposits for eligible customers. , notably :
- Payment arrangements: NIPSCO has expanded its payment plan agreements to offer its most flexible payment plans for customers who need financial support, including a three-month option, a six-month option introduced during the pandemic, and an option of 12 months for eligible LIHEAP customers. Customers can learn more and enroll at NIPSCO.com/PaymentPlans.
- LIHEAP program: LIHEAP support is available to households with an income at or below 60% of the state median income (SMI). The program opens October 1 for online and mail-in applications. Customers can find out more and find out if they are eligible at eap.ihcda.in.gov or call 2-1-1.
- Municipal Trustees: A limited amount of energy assistance funds are available through local township administrator offices. NIPSCO customers are encouraged to contact their local township trustee to see what help may be available.
- The Emergency Rent Assistance Program (IERA): Provides up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance for tenants. Additional information can be found at https://www.in.gov/ihcda/homeowners-and-renters/rental-assistance/.
Customers who are having difficulty paying their bill – regardless of income – are encouraged to contact our Customer Service Center Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT at 1-800-464-7726 to determine the help that might be available to them. For more information on billing assistance, customers can visit NIPSCO.com/FinancialSupport.
In addition to offering a variety of payment assistance options, NIPSCO offers a number of energy efficiency programs to help reduce energy consumption and bills. Visit NIPSCO.com/Save for more information on available programs and other ways to save.
For more information regarding NIPSCO’s application, visit NIPSCO.com/2023electricaltariffs.