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Consumer interest in “green power” - electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind, landfills, the sun, and hydroelectric generation facilities - continues to grow in Indiana and throughout the nation.
In Indiana, the electric utility industry is pursuing a variety of green power initiatives, including the development of renewable generation facilities, agreements to purchase renewable energy on the wholesale electric market, and green power billing options for customers. Initiatives and options vary among utilities.
A number of wind energy facilities are operating in and near Benton County, Indiana including the Benton County Wind Farm, the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, the Hoosier Wind Farm, and the Meadow Lake Wind Project. Wind energy development projects are operating or have been proposed in a number of additional Indiana counties, including the Wildcat Wind Farm now operating in Madison and Tipton Counties.
Solar and methane energy production is also growing in Indiana, with examples noted below.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) has supported various green power proposals before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) in recent years. This fact sheet offers a basic summary of renewable energy initiatives throughout the state and will be updated periodically.
Indianapolis Power & Light Co. (IPL) offers an alternative billing option for Green Power. This option was created under an agreement among IPL, the OUCC and other parties in 1998.
In April 2008, IPL announced plans to purchase 100 megawatts (MW) from the proposed Hoosier Wind Farm in Benton County. The OUCC filed testimony supporting this proposal, which received IURC approval in October 2008.
IPL has received IURC approval to purchase up to 200 additional megawatts from a wind farm in Minnesota.
In addition, IPL customers are involved in the development of solar projects totaling nearly 100 MW. The largest airport solar farm in North America is now operating at Indianapolis International Airport, with another large solar farm being planned near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“GoGreen Indiana” is a Duke Energy program that last received IURC approval in July 2009, under an agreement between the utility and the OUCC.
In April 2008, Duke Energy started receiving power from the Benton County Wind Farm under a 20-year contract to purchase up to 100 MW of wind generation. The OUCC supported this contract and supports other market-driven efforts to create new, cost-effective renewable generation in Indiana.
Duke Energy also operates the Markland Hydro Station on the Ohio River in Switzerland County.
Vectren Energy Delivery has contracts with two wind farms in Benton County to purchase up to 80 MW.
In addition, Vectren operates a 3.2-MW methane gas generation facility at the Blackfoot Landfill in Pike County. The OUCC filed testimony supporting this request before the IURC.
Indiana Michigan Power's (I&M's) parent company - American Electric Power (AEP) - has entered into a contract to buy 100 MW from the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County that will serve customers in Indiana and Michigan. I&M has also received approval to buy 100 MW from the Wildcat Wind Farm in Grant, Howard, Madison and Tipton counties.
I&M operates 2 hydroelectric stations on the St. Joseph River in Indiana and 4 hydroelectric stations in southern Michigan, with a combined capability of just over 22 MW.
In a pending case, I&M is seeking Commission approval of a solar pilot project. The OUCC filed testimony on September 17, 2014.
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) operates 2 hydroelectric stations in northern Indiana and has received IURC approval to pursue up to 100 MW in power purchase agreements with wind farms in Iowa and South Dakota.
NIPSCO has offered a green power billing option since 2012, which the OUCC supported in IURC filings:
Some renewable energy projects may qualify for state or federal tax incentives. More information is available from the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).
The OUCC is actively working with Indiana's major energy utilities to expand energy efficiency programs and increase their effectiveness. These include lighting efficiency programs, home weatherization efforts, smart meter proposals and consumer education. The OUCC offers free consumer fact sheets on managing your summer electric, winter energy and water bills.
Conservation tips are also available from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Also, the OUCC strongly encourages qualifying customers to enroll in the voluntary direct load control programs offered by many Indiana electric utilities. These programs offer bill credits in return for letting the utility install a “switch” on your central air conditioning unit. This allows the utility to “cycle” the appliances for brief periods during peak demand times – resulting in little discomfort for the customer but helping the utility ensure reliable service. The OUCC consumer fact sheet on these programs offers more details.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Voice/TDD: (317) 232-2494
Fax: (317) 232-5923