MERRILLVILLE — NiSource Inc. Chief Operating Officer Jim Stanley will retire from the company on June 1, and two other executives will be promoted.

Stanley, who was hired in 2012 to head up NiSource's NIPSCO utility, is an executive vice president and has been a top-level executive at a time of great change for the Merrillville-headquartered utility. He has worked more than 40 years in the utility industry, having served as an executive at Duke Energy before coming to NIPSCO.

“Jim's legacy of leadership experience and true dedication to customer and community service have set standards of excellence that will serve NiSource stakeholders for years to come,” said NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock .

“He’s built a team prepared to continue delivering on our well-established programs and enhancing our services to our customers.”

Stanley was promoted to the chief operating officer position when NiSource split off its natural gas pipeline business in 2015, positioning NiSource as a regulated utility operating in seven states.

Stanley will receive a lump sum payment of $550,000, the equivalent of 52 weeks pay, as he goes out the door, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He also will receive a payout under the company's short-term incentive plan to the extent 2017 performance goals are achieved.

With the announcement of Stanley's retirement, Pablo Vegas has been named executive vice president, gas segment and chief customer officer, effective May 1. He will assume the additional responsibilities for leading field operations across NiSource’s seven natural gas companies.

“Pablo's demonstrated vision and commitment to excellence in customer service and operations, driven by high engagement and collaboration with employees and stakeholders, provide the leadership to build on our successful execution and set the course for continued growth,” Hamrock said.

Vegas joined NiSource in 2016 as executive vice president and president, Columbia Gas Group, after serving in various leadership roles in the utility industry.

Along with Vegas’ enhanced role, Mike Finissi will become executive vice president, safety, capital execution and technical services. He will be responsible for capital programs, engineering, safety, environmental, technical training and shared services.

Finissi has been instrumental in installing more than $800 million in environmental safeguards at NIPSCO's Schahfer Generating Station, in Wheatfield, and the Michigan City Generating Station. Both of those are coal-fired electric generating plants, with the utility mulling the partial retirement of Schahfer in the future.

“Mike's track record of sustained execution of our capital programs, built on his deep experience in operations and safety leadership, makes him ideally suited to sustain our performance while driving continued gains in safety, training and infrastructure programs,” Hamrock said.

NiSource has 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands.