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Violet Sistovaris

Violet Sistovaris

We often hear the phrase, “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”

However, I tend to agree with Robert Fulghum, author of "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten", who said: "The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you are."

For Indiana, and particularly Northwest Indiana, our businesses, residents and communities have been doing a noticeably good job watering their grass — figuratively speaking.

As an energy company serving 32 counties across Indiana, we have unique visibility into many of our local communities.

We’re seeing a resurgence of planned investments in northern Indiana — including those announced by U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal, as well as Alliance Steel, the Digital Crossroads of America Data Center and Fulcrum BioEnergy for example.

Local communities are reinvesting in themselves. From beautifying portions of town and upgrading roads and infrastructure, to growing local businesses and making their parks and downtown areas more vibrant and enjoyable, it’s clear that improvements are being made.

From NIPSCO’s position, I’m proud of the recent announcements we’ve made around our future energy mix and the role it will play in shaping the direction of our region and state as a whole.

“Your Energy, Your Future” is the overarching theme we’re using to identify this plan, which is all about our customers, acknowledging that the decisions we make effect our collective future together.

Under the strategy we’ve outlined, we’re planning to go 100 percent coal-free by 2028 and transition to lower-cost renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and battery storage technology.

With such a significant change, it’s important to reinforce that these are economically-based decisions, focused on affordability for our customers. It’s not politically driven, nor are we entering the national dialogue on climate. And we are confident in our ability to deliver reliable and sustainable energy into the future.

By retiring coal and transitioning to renewables, it costs an estimated $4 billion less over the long-term than if we were to continue running our coal facilities into the future.

From a statewide picture, the amount of renewable energy we’re planning to add to our system over the next decade would more than double the amount of existing renewables in Indiana — a move that would put the state among the leading renewable producers nationally.

And becoming coal-free will continue to improve the region’s environment, as we would be reducing our carbon emissions by amounts that would far outpace the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5-Degree Scenario.

While this plan has many positives to highlight, we’re also focused on the change this means for our employees and the local communities where these facilities operate — as they’ve been an important part of serving customers for many generations.

The path we’ve outlined envisions a brighter future, and we want to be sure it’s done the right way.

As another step forward, we also recently announced our first set of new renewable sources with the planned addition of three Indiana-based wind projects expected to become operational beginning in late 2020 once approved.

So, whether it’s our energy future, low taxes, the quality and affordability of our housing stock, low cost of living or even the quality of our schools, to name a few, Indiana can meet the diverse set of needs and interests of individuals and businesses wanting to call Indiana their home.

Anyone who has ever maintained a lawn knows the hard work and upkeep required to sustain a lush, green bed of grass. It’s clear that Indiana has been putting in the work necessary to be such an attractive place.

Violet Sistovaris is president of NIPSCO. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.