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Windmills

Wind turbines are shown along Interstate 65. NIPSCO and several partner companies are planning nearly 300 more turbines in White, Montgomery, Benton and Warren counties.

Three upcoming wind farm projects will help NIPSCO move toward its goal of being coal-free by the end of 2028, the company announced Friday.

Wind farms in Montgomery, White and Benton and Warren counties will add nearly 300 turbines and 800 megawatts of electricity generating capacity to the state's landscape, and NIPSCO has entered agreements to acquire power from each.

The projects involve partnerships between the Merrillville-based utility and the private companies developing the farms. The agreements resulted from a request NIPSCO issued last year for proposals for alternative energy generation.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to add more home-grown renewable energy in Indiana,” NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris said in the company's announcement. “In addition to the economic benefits that projects like these add, the transition we’re making in our electric generation equates to an estimated $4 billion in cost-savings for customers over the long-term.”

NIPSCO's "Your Energy, Your Future" plan calls for retirement of its coal-fired generators at the Schahfer plant near Wheatfield by the end of 2023, and of the generator at its Michigan City plant by the end of 2028. Its strategic plan, developed last year, concluded that the long-term cost of coal, including the cost of maintaining coal-fired plants, was higher than the cost of other sources, including wind and solar, coupled with battery storage technology.

NIPSCO received a total of 90 responses to its request for proposals, with 70 in Indiana. More projects could result from those proposals, and NIPSCO intends to issue a second request for proposals for renewable energy projects this year.

NIPSCO has submitted the wind farm plans to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for its approval. NIPSCO and the project developers expect the farms to be operational by late 2020.

The projects

 Jordan Creek: A 400 MW project to be developed and constructed by NextEra Energy Resources in Benton and Warren counties, near Williamsport. The project will include an estimated 160 wind turbines. NIPSCO will purchase power directly from Jordan Creek, which will operate and maintain the facilities.

NextEra Energy is headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida. Its NextEra Energy Resources operates wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear power plants, including Bluff Point Wind Energy Center in Jay and Randolph counties in eastern Indiana. Bluff Point can generate up to 120 megawatts of electricity, according to the company.

The NIPSCO-NextEra purchased-power agreement has a term of 20 years.

Roaming Bison: A 300 MW wind project to be developed and constructed by Apex Clean Energy in Montgomery County, near Waynetown. The project will include an estimated 107 turbines. NIPSCO will purchase power directly from Roaming Bison, which will operate and maintain the facilities.

Roaming Bison is the first Indiana project for Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The company is engaged in planning the project and engaging with Montgomery County officials and landowners.

“NIPSCO is taking advantage of strong, local wind resources and low generation costs to accelerate the shift from aging coal plants," Apex President and CEO Mark Goodwin said in the company's announcement of the agreement. "At the same time, the vital community support shown by the residents of Montgomery County will yield tremendous returns in terms of economic benefits—both to the county and to landowners involved in the project.”

The NIPSCO-Apex agreement also has a term of 20 years.

Rosewater: A 102 MW wind project, to be developed and constructed by EDP Renewables North America in White County. The project will include an estimated 25 turbines. EDP Renewables, which will construct the wind farm, and NIPSCO entered into a joint venture and ownership agreement for the Rosewater project.

Madrid, Spain-based EDP Renewables is the fourth largest wind energy producer in the world. Its Houston-based North America subsidiary's wind farms include Meadow Lake in White and Benton counties. They can generate up to 700 megawatts of electricity.

With its contract with NIPSCO, "EDPR has now secured 1.1 (gigawatts) of wind energy agreements in the U.S. for projects to be installed in 2019 and 2020."

The NIPSCO-EDPR joint venture includes the ultimate transfer of full ownership of Rosewater to NIPSCO.

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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.