NIPSCO wants to buy electricity from wind farms in South Dakota and Iowa, a move consumer groups and five large industrial customers say would cost them money.
The utility solicited for wind power last fall and Buffalo Ridge I, in South Dakota, and Barton Windpower, in northern Iowa won out because they offered the lowest prices, according to NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer.
NIPSCO, in an integrated resource plan submitted to state regulators last year, said it wanted to provide customers with more electricity from renewable sources and gas-fired power plants.
In all, NIPSCO would purchase 100 megawatts of electricity from the two wind farms, which is enough to power about 27,500 homes. Both wind farms are owned by Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has testified against NIPSCO’s plan to buy wind-generated electricity from Buffalo Ridge and Barton.
A witness for the Consumer Counselor told the Indiana Regulatory Commission it supports the use of wind power, but fears customers will have to pay excessive charges for its transport. That is because Buffalo Ridge is 500 miles away from NIPSCO’s Indiana territory and Barton is 350 miles away.
The Consumer Counselor also wants NIPSCO to consider buying electricity from wind farms in Indiana. The only wind farm currently producing electricity in Indiana is the Benton County Wind Farm, operated by Orion Energy near Kentland.
Today, BP America President Bob Malone is scheduled to be in Benton County to unveil BP’s Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, which is expected to begin producing electricity later this year.
The NIPSCO Industrial Group opposes the utility’s plan for many of the same reasons as the Consumer Counselor. It points out NIPSCO automatically will be able to recoup its increased costs from customers. The NIPSCO Industrial Group is made up of U.S. Steel Corp., Mittal Steel USA, Praxair Inc., Cargill Inc., and Beta Steel Corp.
The LaPorte County Commissioners also are intervening in the case.
BP head to unveil wind farm
What: The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, which will be one of largest in world, when completed.
When: 11 p.m. (EDT) today
Where: Fowler, Ind.
Who: BP America President Robert Malone and Gov. Mitch Daniels commemorate construction of the farm.
By Keith Benman
29 May 2008
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