Sustainability – according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – is based on a simple principle: everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Following this important principle, NIPSCO is incorporating a number of green business practices and creating new ways for residents and businesses to get involved in the region.
One of seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc., NIPSCO is the largest natural gas distribution company and the second largest electric distribution company in the state of Indiana. Serving 3.8 million gas and electric customers across seven states, NiSource created an employee-led Sustainability Council in early 2011.
This group worked together to create a common understanding of sustainability across the company, and is now in the process of finalizing a strategy with defined goals, objectives and performance indicators that will be incorporated into NiSource's business-planning processes.
In recognition of their efforts – including NIPSCO’s commitment – NiSource was on the 2012 Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. Of the 140 companies listed, NiSource is one of just two US natural gas distribution companies.
Even more recently, one of NIPSCO’s newest customer programs, the Green Power rate program was certified by Green-e Energy, North America’s leading certification and verification program for renewable energy.
“We continue to make significant advancements toward a more sustainable future and this type of recognition is another demonstration of the progress we continue to make,” NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley said. “Not only are we making investments in our business that will help enhance the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of northern Indiana, but we’re pleased to provide options for our customers to play a role in leading our region into a continued positive direction.”
NIPSCO is a leader in improving air quality. Over the last two decades, the company has slashed its emissions, which played a significant role in helping Northwest Indiana become designated as an attainment area in 2010 for the first time since the EPA 1990 Clean Air Act was adopted. Attainment area status is a key factor in economic and community development.
With more than 786,000 natural gas customers and 457,000 electric customers across the northern third of Indiana, NIPSCO is committed to always providing the best possible service in an environmentally responsible way:
• Renewable energy - NIPSCO’s increasing commitment to sustainable energy can be seen in the operation of two hydroelectric facilities and purchasing 100MW of wind energy.
• Improving air quality – NIPSCO has invested $375 million in reducing Nitrogen Oxide and Sulfur Oxide emissions by 70 percent since 1990 and continues to work with the EPA under the Clean Air Act while investing approximately $800 million in additional environmental controls to further reduce emissions in their coal-fired generating facilities. *
• Clean Vehicles – NIPSCO is investing $3 million toward Clean Diesel Projects that will reduce emissions by 30-90% per vehicle.*
• Reforestation – Over the last five years, NIPSCO’s Forestry Operations Department and vegetation management services have joined forces to plant more than 2,400 trees in Indiana. The Arbor Day Foundation consistently recognizes NIPSCO as a Tree Line USA Utility.
• Restoration - NIPSCO is a major partner of the Grand Kankakee Marsh Restoration Project and supporter of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, both of which have restored and preserved thousands of acres of wetlands.
• NIPSCO Environmental Action Team (NEAT) - Formed by NIPSCO employees, NEAT provides environmental education and assistance with restoration efforts in our communities.
Along with doing their part to help promote environmental sustainability and stewardship, NIPSCO empowers customers to do the same:
• Energy Efficiency Programs – NIPSCO offers a wide range of programs to help lower your bill, improve energy efficiency and conserve natural resources, including Appliance Recycling, Free Online or In-Home Energy Audit, Appliance Rebate, Home Energy Report, Instant Savings on CFL Bulbs and A/C Cycling.
• Electric Vehicles - The IN-Charge Electric Vehicle Program grants customers a credit of up to $1,650 for the installation of a home charging station, free charging between 10 pm and 6 am plus the installation of public charging systems that use Renewable Energy Credits. *
• Wood Stove & Boiler Change out Program – Residents across northern Indiana can upgrade to a cleaner burning appliance and receive credits up to $5,000. *
• Generating your own Power – NIPSCO’s Net Metering/Feed-in Tariff Program promotes renewable energy generation, allowing eligible homes and businesses to sell the power they generate or receive a credit on their bill to offset their individual usage.
• Purchase Green Power –New in 2013, this program offers residents and businesses the option to choose renewable energy for 25%, 50% or 100% of their monthly energy usage for a few extra dollars each month.
• E-Bill - Help save the environment and your time, go paperless and pay by e-bill.
* These programs are being offered as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project under the NIPSCO New Source Review NOV settlement.
Community Case Study:
Students Learn about Green Power Firsthand
The generation of power from renewable energy was added to the learning curriculum at Porter County Career and Technical Center in partnership with NIPSCO two years ago. Now, thanks to equipment built, installed and maintained by students in the electronics and manufacturing classes, the school generates enough power to cut its utility bills by about 10 percent when compared with last year.
Plus, NIPSCO now buys back some of the electricity they generate.
“We started out with two solar collectors and one wind generator,” Principal and Area Director of Career and Technical Education Jon Groth said. “The program kind of evolved over time. There was a bit of a learning curve – for example Valparaiso needed to establish a residential wind generation code, and we worked with them on that – and of course technology is always changing. “
With a total of 40 solar collectors now available for use, the students, who are juniors and seniors from Porter County high schools and Hobart High School, are in the process of building two more wind generators.
Along with seeing firsthand how the power they generate is used to light a display case, turn on and off motion-sensor hallway lights, power 24-hour security lighting and a few other things, the students are learning a great deal about how these alternative energy sources work and why they are so important, according to Groth.
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