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NIPSCO adding three new solar power projects, 900 megawatts in northern Indiana

Source: 
The La Porte County Herald-Argus

MERRILLVILLE - Northern Indiana Public Service Company on Wednesday announced it will bring an additional 900 megawatts to Indiana with three solar energy centers as part of its long-term generation strategy.

NIPSCO has finalized three build transfer agreements with subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources, the world's largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, and a leader in energy storage, a statement from the utility said. They are expected to begin construction in 2022, and be operational in 2022 and 2023.

NextEra Energy Resources will construct the projects and NIPSCO will enter into joint ventures to own, operate and maintain some facets once construction is complete, according to Mike Hooper, NIPSCO president.

"The addition of these three solar projects and associated battery storage is an investment in the future of Indiana and the future of NIPSCO, as we deliver on our promise of bringing safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers," he said in the statement.

"Renewable technology continues to advance, and we are proud to be working with NextEra Energy Resources on the Dunns Bridge and Cavalry solar projects as we continue to implement our 'Your Energy, Your Future' plan."

The investment will bring economic benefits to the state, including both construction and long-term operating and maintenance jobs, along with enhancing the county tax base.

"Jasper County is pleased to continue our long-term relationship with NIPSCO," said Kendell Culp, Jasper County commissioner.

"As the county continues to search for additional economic development projects in light of the coming retirement of the Schafer Generating Station, we look forward to this new opportunity to bring stability to our county's tax base."

The Dunns Bridge I, Dunns Bridge II and Cavalry solar projects are the next step in bringing NIPSCO's "Your Energy, Your Future" plan to life. The company plans to be coal-free by 2028, adding a combination of cleaner energy sources to its existing portfolio, which includes natural gas and hydroelectric generation.

This transition will help deliver a more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy mix for NIPSCO customers for years to come – saving customers $4 billion over the long term, Hooper said.

Five renewable projects have previously been announced by NIPSCO. Two wind projects are near completion, including the Jordan Creek Wind Energy Center, from which NIPSCO will purchase power directly.

The three latest projects were selected following a comprehensive review of bids submitted through the all source RFP process NIPSCO underwent in late 2019 – which affirms the conclusions of the 2018 NIPSCO IRP, that wind and solar resources were lower cost options for customers compared to other energy resource options, Hooper said.

NIPSCO will request the addition of the new projects to its supply portfolio in filings with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Dunns Bridge Solar I in Jasper County will include an estimated 900,000 solar panels and be operational in 2022, according to NIPSCO. Dunns Bridge Solar will be capable of producing enough energy to power 79,500 homes.

Dunns Bridge Solar II, also in Jasper County, will have 435 MW of solar paired with 75 MW of battery storage. The project will include an estimated 1.5 million solar panels and is expected to be operational in 2023. It will be capable of producing enough energy to power 130,500 homes, NIPSCO said.

Dunns Bridge Solar I & II are expected to generate approximately $59 million in additional tax revenue for Jasper County over the life of the projects and approximately 300 jobs during construction.

Cavalry Solar will have 200 MW of solar with 60 MW of battery storage, and will be located in White County. The project will include an estimated 650,000 solar panels and be capable of producing enough energy to power 60,000 homes, NIPSCO said.

Operational in 2023, it is expected to generate approximately $25 million in additional revenue for White County and approximately 200 jobs during construction.

NIPSCO said it expects to announce additional renewable projects later this year.

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