Chesterton Tribune

Settlement would allow folks with solar, wind, hydro power to sell it to NIPSCO

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company has reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and other stakeholders which provides for the creation of a “feed-in” program allowing customers with renewable-energy facilities to connect to NIPSCO’s grid and sell their power to the company.

The agreement would also expand NIPSCO’s current net metering program giving more customers with solar, wind, or hydro generating facilities the opportunity to earn credits applicable to their monthly bill.

The settlement is subject to review and approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

The first program—a pilot dubbed the Renewable Feed-in Electric Tariff—would permit customers to connect solar, wind, or bio-mass generation sources up to 5 megawatts (MW) in nameplate capacity, or a hydro source up to 1 MW, to NIPSCO’s grid and sell their power to the company.

“Purchase power agreement rates for these projects are based upon the generation technology and the capacity size of the project,” NIPSCO said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The feed-in program would be capped at 30 MW, which NIPSCO said is equivalent to 1 percent of last year’s projected summer peak demand of around 3,000 MW. The program would remain in effect through 2013 and will then be evaluated to determined if it should be extended, modified, or dropped.

The net-metering program, on the other hand, would allow customers with solar, wind, and hydro facilities up to 1 MW in nameplate capacity—not just those in certain categories—to earn credits. Approximately 30 customers participated in the net-metering program last year, NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer told the Chesterton Tribune on Thursday.

“This settlement represents a collaborative effort aimed at promoting further renewable generation opportunities in Northern Indiana and responding to our customers’ interest in powering their homes and businesses with such projects,” NIPSCO CEO Jimmy Staton said.

“We are pleased to be a part of the negotiations that led to the settlement now before state regulators,” said Grant Smith, executive director the Citizens Action Coalition. “We hope residential and business customers take full advantage of the renewable energy incentives provide by NIPSCO. The proposed net-metering and feed-in tariffs are certainly an important step for the renewable energy sector in Indiana.”

“Feed-in tariffs have been very successful in other countries in rapidly implementing cost-effective renewable energy projects,” noted Steve Francis, chair of the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club.

 

Posted 4/22/2011