Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) is taking major steps to improve service, enhance reliability, create new jobs and help power life in Northern Indiana.
The state's larGest natural gas provider and second largest electric provider is launching major new investments in environmental and clean energy programs; new economic development partnerships to attract and grow businesses that create jobs; new community and education alliances to build stronger communities and a skilled local workforce; and new customer programs to help keep energy affordable for northern Indiana residents and businesses.
INVESTING IN CLEAN ENERGY
On the clean energy front, NIPSCO plans to invest about $600 million in environmental technology, conservation initiatives and clean energy programs during the next six to eight years. These investments will improve the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of Northern Indiana, says NIPSCO CEO Jimmy Staton.
"NIPSCO's environmental initiatives not only will result in cleaner air for the region, but these efforts also will create hundreds of new jobs and deliver important new clean energy options for our customers, Staton says.
By the close of 2018, NIPSCO's environmental initiatives are expected to deliver a number of key benefits, including:
Cleaner Air: NIPSCO's electric generating fleet is expected to be among the cleanest in Indiana, with NOx emissions lowered by an additional 35 percent from current rates, SO2 emissions lowered by an additional 80 percent from current rates, and other benefits, such as reduced fleet vehicle emissions and improved air quality monitoring, will be achieved. These improvements will have an added benefit of helping NIPSCO achieve compliance with anticipated tighter future emission standards.
Jobs and Economic Development: Installation of new environmental controls at NIPSCO's R.M. Schahfer, Bailly and Michigan City generating stations are projected to create hundreds of new jobs for locally contracted companies during the next eight years, as well as new positions within the company.
Conservation and Clean Energy: NIPSCO also will invest $9.5 million over the next five years in new environmental conservation and clean energy projects such as working with local communities and organizations to develop new publicly available electric vehicle charging stations - powered exclusively with renewable energy; replacing and retrofitting diesel engines with hybrid and/or electric vehicles throughout the service territory; and partnering with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and other regional conservation groups to acquire and conserve environmentally sensitive properties in the region.
ENERGY SAVINGS PROGRAMS FOR CUSTOMERS
Providing new ways for customers to better manage their energy use and reduce their monthly bills is another key focus for NIPSCO.
Customers can access an array of services, including energy efficiency programs, through NIPSCO's home Web site, NIPSCO.com.
For example, the Appliance Recycling offers free pick-up of old refrigerators or freezers at customers' homes and a $35 reward for this recycling effort. By recycling these old appliances, customers can save as much as $100 per year on their energy bills.
NIPSCO's Appliance Rebate program also offers an opportunity to save even more when customers replace old natural gas appliances with high-efficiency models. Rebates are available for purchasing and installing high-efficiency natural gas furnaces, boilers, water heaters and programmable thermostats.
The NIPSCO Web site provides a new online home energy audit. Using this tool, residential customers can analyze their home's energy efficiency and focus on specific areas of their home, and learn how to save energy. They also receive specific recommendations to improve their energy use.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
NIPSCO also is taking new steps to help those working hardest to make ends meet, especially low-income, elderly and disabled customers.
NIPSCO recently voluntarily changed its policy on deposit requirements for low-income customers.
The utility also provides $1 million in funding for low-income customer assistance programs each year. These programs - which provide assistance to customers falling behind on their energy bills, or who are unable to meet deposit requirements - are vital to the safety and well-being of individuals and families across NIPSCO's service area, Staton says.
NIPSCO also partners with the NiSource Charitable Foundation to fund local human services agencies that provide grassroots assistance and support to individuals and working families hardest hit by the economic downturn.
"These contributions are part of our corporate culture. They are an investment in our area and in its people," Staton says. "In addition, our employees donate countless hours volunteering for a variety of local causes.
FUELING INDIANA BUSINESS, JOBS
Providing reliable, modern and efficient energy attracts new companies to the area, helps existing businesses expand and promotes an economic climate that helps keep and create jobs, Staton says.
NIPSCO proudly supports over two dozen economic development organizations across northern Indiana, and invests over $1 million each year in economic development initiatives.
Partnerships with the State of Indiana and organizations like the Northwest Indiana Forum, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the North Central Indiana Economic Development Partnership as well as the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, have resulted in the growth and expansion of dozens of new northern Indiana businesses, and nearly 10,000 jobs during the last decade.
"As we move through 2011, furthering the economic growth and success of our region will be a major focus area for NIPSCO. We plan to take a leadership role in this vital initiative," adds Staton.
In addition, NIPSCO has partnered with more than 400 Indiana suppliers and vendors, resulting in about $90 million in direct benefits to the local economy each year.
"We are working to strengthen that supplier network, including a focus on increasing our relationships with minority and female-owned suppliers," Staton says.
PARTNERING TO BUILD THE WORKFORCE OF THE FUTURE
NIPSCO also is committed to helping build the local, northern Indiana workforce of tomorrow through partnerships with technical schools, community organizations and higher education institutions across the region.
"As NIPSCO's current team members reach retirement age, we are hiring hundreds of new employees each year, providing a broad range of career opportunities here in northern Indiana," Staton says.
For example, NIPSCO has formed an academic partnership with Ivy Tech Community College and a consortium of utilities in Indiana to offer courses and programs to increase awareness of industry careers and provide the skills and knowledge needed by those seeking long-term employment in the electric and natural gas industry.
"You don't need to be an engineer or hold a four-year degree to take these courses. The Ivy Tech programs will provide excellent hands-on and real-life experience, and it is a great step for anyone interested in working for NIPSCO," Staton says.
Program participants can obtain career development certificates in industrial technology with specialties in electric line construction, power plant technology and natural gas technology. These certificates will help prepare individuals for careers as an electric lineman, substation electrician, plant mechanic, power plant operator, gas serviceman and more.
Two-year associate degrees are also part of this Ivy Tech-NIPSCO partnership.
"People have completed these programs and NIPSCO has hired them," Staton says.
NIPSCO also maintains an ongoing relationship with Purdue University Calumet to work with engineering students on real-life projects. For example, students at PUC's Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation worked with NIPSCO engineers on a pollution control project at the utility company's Bailly Generating Station in Chesterton. That project to improve efficiency is saving NIPSCO $1.9 million annually.
Recognized as a strong corporate citizen of Northwest Indiana, NIPSCO is firmly committed to strengthening and growing the region through economic development, the creation of jobs, and through charitable contributions of time and funds.
These investments will help create a sustainable future for the region and our children. For more information and resources, visit NIPSCO.com.