NIPSCO has submitted an application to state regulators to operate a voluntary program allowing customers to purchase "green" electricity.
The utility's Green Power Rate pilot program would charge customers a premium on their monthly bills in exchange for the utility certifying it is buying that power from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or geothermal, according to NIPSCO.
Customers could elect to designate 25 percent, 50 percent or all their usage to be attributable to power generated by renewable energy sources. Commercial and industrial customers would have the additional option of designating just 5 percent or 10 percent of their usage.
"In addition to supporting the state's goals to promote renewable and homegrown energy, the Green Power program is in line with our mission to invest in clean, modern and affordable energy solutions that support Indiana's long-term economic growth," said NIPSCO president Kathleen O'Leary.
The pilot program must still be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. As part of that process, consumer groups submit testimony and hearings are held before the commission. The commission can accept the program as proposed, modify it or reject it.
Customers who elect to participate would pay approximately 1/5 of a cent per kilowatt hour for all electricity they buy that is attributed to renewable sources, according to NIPSCO.
For example, a customer electing to buy all their electricity under the Green Power Rate pilot program and using about 1,000 kilowatts per month would pay an additional $2.16 per month as compared to someone not enrolled in the program, according to NIPSCO.
Electricity generated by renewable sources cannot be separated from electricity generated by coal-fired power plants in the wires that carry electricity to people's homes. So customers participating in green energy programs like that proposed by NIPSCO get the same electricity as everyone else.
The extra money those customers pay for participating in the green program goes to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates, which certify the renewable energy ordered has indeed been produced and used, according to NIPSCO. The utility is using an outside company to certify that happens and that the proper energy sources are used.
Renewable Energy Certificates are essentially environmental commodities that can be used to reduce greenhouse gases, which are often blamed for global warming, according to the center for resource solutions, a nonprofit that creates policy and market solutions to advance sustainable energy.