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Michigan City Generating Station

NIPSCO's Michigan City Generating Station sits on Lake Michigan at the mouth of Trail Creek. Its coal-fired generator would be retired by 2028 according to a plan announced Wednesday.

NIPSCO has a tentative plan to retire its entire coal-fired electricity generation fleet in the next decade, with the majority of its coal-fired generators to be retired in the next five years.

The company made the announcement Wednesday at the fourth of five public meetings detailing the development of a new Integrated Resource Plan for the utility.

“This creates a vision for the future that is better for our customers, and it’s consistent with our goal to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while maintaining reliability, diversity and flexibility for technology and market changes,” said NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris.

Renewable sources of energy, including wind and solar, along with battery storage, will likely replace its use of coal, according to the company.

NIPSCO retired the two coal-fired generators at its Bailly Generating Station along Lake Michigan earlier this year, as part of a plan to reduce its coal-fired generation by half by 2023. That left five still in use.

Four coal-fired units at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield will be retired no later than 2023, and the one unit at the Michigan City Generating Station by 2028, if the plan is carried out. The Schahfer plant also has gas-fired "peaking units" that ensure a consistent flow of electricity during peak times. 

No determination has been made regarding future use of the plants, according to the company, nor on the plan's precise impact on employment.

The move to retire its 1,800 megawatts of coal-fired generation "will significantly accelerate carbon reductions across the NIPSCO footprint," the company said in announcing the plan. The reduction will be quicker and of greater magnitude than previously announced targets, which had only included retirement of two of the four Schahfer generators in addition to the Bailly retirement.

Sistovaris said advancements in technology and changes in the energy market are the primary drivers of the change in plans.

“Retiring our aging coal fleet sooner will cost substantially less compared to our original plans for extending retirements over a longer duration,” she said.

NIPSCO's Integrated Resource Plan planning process will continue through October as the utility prepares to submit its preferred plan for the coal-generator retirement, and for what will replace the energy the produce, to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by Nov. 1.

For information on NIPSCO's Integrated Resource Plan update, visit nipsco.com/irp.

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Transportation Reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.