Coalition supports NIPSCO clean energy programs

2011-11-16T18:39:00Z Coalition supports NIPSCO clean energy programsBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

LONG BEACH | A coalition of more than 40 businesses and environmental groups formed to support NIPSCO's new clean energy initiatives and encourage the power company to reduce its reliance on coal.

The Sierra Club officially announced the creation of the Clean Energy Future Coalition during a gathering attended by about 25 people Wednesday at the Long Beach Old School Community Center. A banner made up of 1,000 individual petitions collected by the Sierra Club was unrolled showing public support for NIPSCO's actions.

The two main facets of NIPSCO's renewable clean energy program available to customers are the net metering program and the feed-in tariff. Both are designed to encourage customers to connect to solar, wind, hydro or biomass systems to produce energy for the NIPSCO power grid and be paid for it.

Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter Chairman Steve Francis called the feed-in tariff "the most innovative program anywhere," and he said NIPSCO's overall program "leapfrogs" it over other utilities. Francis said the Sierra Club received a $50 million grant from the Michael Bloomberg Foundation to promote the Beyond Coal to Clean Energy campaign in every state and Puerto Rico.

"We've got to move quickly but responsibly to clean energy," Francis said, adding the increase in greenhouse gases produced from the burning of fossil fuels was at its highest level ever during the past year.

Speakers also told of the potential for job creation and reducing overall energy costs by switching to renewable energy sources.

The campaign started two months ago, and those who have signed on with the coalition include Save the Dunes, Christos Coin and Jewelry, Threadbenders Quilts, Lakeshore Coffee and The Smoke Shop. The petition banner stretched halfway around the former classroom.

The coalition hopes to export the NIPSCO programs to other utilities, but Beyond Coal campaign leader Matt Landry told those in attendance: "You need to be the ones to demand that the utilities participate."

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