CROWN POINT │ The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission hosted a public hearing Monday on $59.2 million in environmental projects planned at NIPSCO generating plants and the additional customer charges that will pay for them.
NIPSCO has asked the IURC for permission to undertake the projects to clean up mercury and particulate emissions at its Schahfer, Bailly and Michigan City generating stations.
The utility also is asking for permission to pay for the projects through a surcharge on customer bills. NIPSCO says that surcharge would add around $1 to the monthly electric bill for an average residential customer.
Only one member of the public attended the meeting at the Lake County Government Complex. Dewey Pearman is the executive director of the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana, which represents construction companies that would be working on the NIPSCO projects.
“As an advocacy group for contractors and union labor we feel NIPSCO has been very responsive in not only meeting environmental parameters, but in doing so, has created thousands of jobs for local labor, tradesmen and their contractor employers,” Pearman said. “In our dealings with NIPSCO over the years they have shown to make prudent business decisions that are good for their company but also for the communities and the customers they serve.”
NIPSCO spokeswoman Kathleen Szot said the projects are in line with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rulings made last year.
“They will help improve air quality," she said. "We’re going to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent as a result of this, so it’s good for the environment, it’s good for local air quality, but it also has a positive impact on the local economy in creating jobs.”
NIPSCO has 457,000 electric and 786,000 natural gas customers in northern Indiana. The bill surcharges would only be applied to electric bills.
NIPSCO customers who were unable to attend the hearing can comment on the proposed projects and additional customer charges in several ways:
• Via the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm
• By mailing comments to:
Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
• Via email to uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
• By fax at (317) 232-5923
Written comments received by the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor by May 1 will be filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44311.”