UTILITIES: Enviro regs affecting energy landscape

Times Board of Economists - Update from Karl Stanley, NIPSCO vice president of commercial operations
2013-10-20T00:00:00Z 2013-12-18T16:20:18Z UTILITIES: Enviro regs affecting energy landscapeBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Natural gas prices continue to trade within moderate ranges, despite some fears demand from gas-fired electric generating plants might drive up prices during the summer.

The only risk of natural gas prices increasing sharply appears to stem from from possible restrictions on the drilling technique known as fracking, which has opened up new fields of production in states that allow it.

"The supply appears to be there just waiting," said Karl Stanley, NIPSCO vice president of commercial operations.

New U.S. EPA regulations for mercury and air toxin emissions scheduled to kick in at the end of 2015 are already having an effect on coal-powered electric generation.

Already, some marginal coal-fired plants such as Hammond's State Line Generating Station, owned by Dominion Resources Inc., have been shut down. Now, some other utilities have made announcements of plant closures.

NIPSCO should be prepared to meet the new EPA requirements with the combined $740 million it is spending on pollution control equipment at its coal-fired electric generating plants.

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