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Indiana utility to shutter two units at R.M. Schahfer coal plant by year’s end

February 18, 2021

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. will retire two units at the 1,625-MW R.M. Schahfer coal plant by the end of the year as part of an accelerating transition to cleaner energy resources, executives with parent company NiSource Inc. said Feb. 17.

The NiSource subsidiary, or NIPSCO, previously announced in September 2018 plans to shut down its remaining coal capacity within 10 years beginning with the R.M. Schahfer units in Jasper County, Ind., followed by the 469-MW Michigan City coal plant in LaPorte County, Ind.

“As we continue to evaluate the economics of our generating fleet and the ongoing costs and investments required to keep the coal units operational, we determined that the right path forward for us is to initiate the retirement of two of the four coal units at Schahfer,” NiSource Chief Strategy and Risk Officer Shawn Anderson said on the company’s fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call. “Units 14 and 15 will retire by the end of 2021, which is the most economic decision for our customers.”

Units 14 and 15 provide about 903 MW of operating capacity, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. In 2020, Schahfer was supplied coal by Peabody Energy Corp.’s Gateway Mine and North Antelope Rochelle Mine, and from Thunder Basin Coal Co.’s Black Thunder mine.

NIPSCO will file its 2021 integrated resource plan with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in the fourth quarter, which will provide a clearer picture of its long-term generation plans, company management said. NIPSCO is focusing on a combination of wind, solar and storage capacity to replace its coal generation.

About $1.8 billion to $2 billion in renewable energy investments will be added to NiSource’s rate base by the end of 2023 as the company transitions its generation fleet. The company also will pursue about $1 billion in tax equity partnerships through 2023 as it pursues a mix of joint ventures and power purchase agreements to replace retired capacity.

[Darren Sweeney]

More ($): NiSource to shut down 900 MW of coal as it accelerates energy transition

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