Author Archives Laura Arnold

SEIA finds rooftop solar is worth 24¢/kWh in Michigan

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 29, 2020  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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SEIA finds rooftop solar is worth 24¢/kWh in Michigan

Vectren bucks Indiana legislature with plan to reduce coal mix 78% to 12% by 2025

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 22, 2020  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Vectren  /   No Comments

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Vectren bucks Indiana legislature with plan to reduce coal mix 78% to 12% by 2025

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Published  June 17, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • CenterPoint Energy subsidiary Vectren Energy on Monday announced it would retire 730 MW of coal by 2023, leaving its resource mix at 12% coal-fired power by 2025.
  • The utility's current generation portfolio is 78% coal. Vectren's preferred integrated resource plan, based on an all-resource request for proposals, would add 700 MW to 1,000 MW of solar+storage, 300 MW of wind, 30 MW of demand response resources and 460 MW of combustion turbine natural gas plants. In total, the mix would be 64% renewable energy plus demand response by 2025.
  • Vectren said its proposed plan is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75% below 2005 levels by 2035, and save customers up to $320 million over the next 20 years. The utility has been under pressure from some legislators in recent years to keep Indiana coal online, but consumer advocates in the state say they're pleased the company followed economic signals, rather than political ones.

Dive Insight:

The falling costs of wind, solar and natural gas resources have pushed utilities across the country to diversify their resource portfolios and take advantage of the favorable economics. But that shift has been more polarizing in states like Indiana where the coal industry makes up a significant portion of its workforce.

"It takes a little bit of courage on the part of Vectren to really rebuke what's been going on at the Statehouse," Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) of Indiana, told Utility Dive. "They were already under significant pressure, to say the least."

Vectren in 2018 revealed a plan that would have shuttered three coal-fired plants and replace them with a large combined cycle natural gas plant, as well as some solar. In response to that plan as well as a scenario filed by the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) later that year that would eliminate all coal from its fuel mix by 2028, state lawmakers proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on new resources in the state in a bid to protect coal-fired power from getting replaced.

Though the bill failed in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers earlier this year managed to pass highly-contested legislation, House Bill 1414, that makes coal plants in the state more difficult to retire.

But despite the legislature's efforts to slow the transition from coal, Vectren's resource mix is taking a dramatic shift in the next five years with its fossil fuel-installed capacity expected to drop from 90% to 36%, while renewables and demand response rise from 10% to 64%.

"House Bill 1414 appears to be a colossal waste of everybody's time, and really underscores how the Indiana legislature is really out of touch with not only where the markets and technology are, but also where the utilities are," said Olson. "So [I'm] thrilled to see Vectren sort of rebuke the political pressure, if you will, to keep coal plants running."

Others noted the utility's move, alongside NIPSCO's, might spur other utilities in the state to move away from coal as well.

"Seems to me that Duke, Indianapolis Power & Light and [Indiana Michigan Power] are now under even more pressure to retire coal plants and make bigger investments in clean energy now that both NIPSCO and Vectren have announced plans for a major energy transition this decade," Principal Energy Policy Analyst at EQ Research Ben Inskeep said in a Tweet.

But one point of contention with clean energy and consumer advocates in the state is Vectren's continued investment in natural gas as well as its plan to keep Unit 3 of its Culley coal plant open into the 2040s.

Vectren's plan is in part a response to last year's partial rejection of its $900 million IRP. State regulators ruled that at $800 million the proposed gas plant was too expensive and could lead to stranded asset costs, but approved the utility's plan to retrofit its largest and "most efficient" 270 MW Culley coal-fired unit with emissions reduction technology at a cost of $95 million.

In response, Vectren elected to keep the unit in its mix, while adding more renewables, demand response and efficiency. It also developed a plan to instead build out smaller, more flexible combustion turbine gas units that it plans to bring online by 2024, allowing it to retire its coal more quickly and offset market risk, according to the utility's stakeholder meeting slides, where it announced its plan.

The units are "designed to back up the renewable resources that supply the majority of customers' energy needs," Vectren said in a statement.

The utility is filing its full IRP with regulators June 30. Overall, Vectren pointed to the advantages of moving its portfolio away from coal and toward more economic options.

"Avoiding future coal maintenance investments will ensure local generation has a responsible renewable-to-carbon balance while ensuring the reliability our customers expect," Lynnae Wilson, chief business officer at Indiana Electric Utility Business for CenterPoint, said in a statement. "We are incredibly sensitive to customer impact, and with stakeholder input, we feel this planning process has produced a cost-effective plan that moves us toward a future built on cleaner generation."

Olson said CAC and others in the state will likely challenge the continued operation of Culley 3 in particular.

"We certainly will not relax our criticism of the continued use of coal and the continued operations of Culley 3, which will become less and less economic as time goes by," he said.


Review Vectren's IRP Presentation HERE:

 

Public Stakeholder Meeting #4 - June 15, 2020

Ruckelshaus: Republicans must lead on clean energy jobs

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 21, 2020  /   Posted in Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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Op-ed: Republicans must lead on clean energy jobs

The trend among conservative voters, especially the next generation, has never been more clearly in favor of clean energy.

John Ruckelshaus

Our state is known for its hardworking, resilient people. Prior to being elected to the state Senate, I had the privilege of serving as a deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development — and that experience showed me firsthand how a talented and dedicated workforce truly can be transformative for a state’s economy.

Today, I am heartbroken to see nearly 550,000 in our state out of work due to the pandemic. Indiana’s unemployment rate was 16.9% in April, the fifth-highest in the nation.

I know that if we support Indiana workers, they can accomplish anything. Our leaders in Washington thankfully have passed stimulus packages that offer support for those out of work; but the truth is, people do not want endless checks from the government. They want to get back to work, period.

One of the quickest ways to do that is to target growing industries that are in need. And there is one sector in need that that had been growing four times faster than Indiana jobs overall: advanced energy.

Prior to the shutdown, Indiana’s advanced energy industries employed more than 90,000 people, which is more than auto manufacturing and nearly twice as many as schools and colleges. However, a recent report found that Indiana’s clean energy sector has lost nearly 15,000 jobs in March and April due to the shutdown. But if Congress acts now and puts the right government policies into place, I’m confident those jobs can be recovered.

Boone and Hamilton Cos. (IN) Solar Co-op RFP Due 7/1/2020

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 19, 2020  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

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Boone & Hamilton Cos. Solar Co-ops RFP Due 7/1/2020

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 2020

The 24-member Boone County and Hamilton County Solar Co-ops today issued a request for proposals (RFP) from area solar installers. The group members created the co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP and response template here. Area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web pages:

Solarunitedneighbors.com/Boone

Solarunitedneighbors.com/HamiltonCounty

The solar co-op is free to join and joining is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, members can save up off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group members and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.

Vectren Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Selects Renewables; Replaces Coal with Solar

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 15, 2020  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), solar, Uncategorized, Vectren, wind  /   No Comments

Vectren Final IRP Mtg

Vectren's integrated resource plan selects significant renewables; diversified generation portfolio designated as low-cost customer solution

Preferred portfolio to save customers $320 million over the next 20 years and lowers carbon emissions by nearly 75%; all-source request for pricing inputs incorporated

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company 

Jun 15, 2020, 16:30 ET

EVANSVILLE, Ind., June 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, during its final Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) public stakeholder meeting, Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy company, (Vectren) presented a preferred portfolio to diversify its electric generation fleet in the coming years. The plan ensures reliability and mitigates risk, while saving electric customers an estimated $320 million over the 20-year planning period. Nearly two-thirds of the energy included in the new plan will be generated from renewable resources, reducing reliance on carbon fuels and lowering carbon emissions by nearly 75% from 2005 levels. The plan replaces some older coal generation units with significant renewables, including a large percentage of universal solar. Vectren's fourth and final public stakeholder meeting was conducted as part of the year-long integrated resource planning process, which is overseen by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

"The IRP considers a broad range of potential conditions and variables to determine a preferred fuel mix which allows Vectren to meet future electric energy demand in a safe and reliable manner," said Lynnae Wilson, chief business officer, Indiana Electric. "Over the next several months, we will finalize our generation plan, taking into consideration cost, COVID-19 impacts, efficiency and reliability while recognizing the need for flexibility given ever-advancing technology in a rapidly evolving industry."

Vectren's IRP, submitted every three years to the IURC, demonstrates how the company plans to generate and deliver safe, reliable and reasonably priced electricity to its southwestern Indiana customers through a forecast spanning 20 years. This plan, which considers public stakeholder input, the outcomes of an All-Source RFP, and a wide variety of economic variables is the second consecutive IRP to demonstrate the utility should move toward resource diversity. Modeling conducted within the analysis points Vectren to:

  • Retiring or exiting agreements involving 730 megawatts (MW) of coal generation, thereby avoiding investments estimated at $700 million to comply with strict environmental regulations
  • Adding 700-1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar (some connected to battery energy storage) and 300 MW of wind renewable resources, which would allow all Vectren electric customers access to solar and wind-powered energy at significantly lower costs; and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 75%
  • Adding 460 MW of natural gas combustion turbines; approximately half the natural gas capacity of the combined cycle gas turbine proposed in the previous IRP and designed to back up the renewable resources that supply the majority of customers' energy needs

"Using what we have learned from this IRP process, we will be pursuing a much larger percentage of renewable energy, as well as continuing to offer energy efficiency programs to ensure customers have options to use energy wisely," continued Wilson. "Customer and stakeholder engagement were focal points throughout this very important process, and we appreciate the thoughtful insights offered which helped us realize this plan. We are committed to developing a transition plan that is responsive to our customers and the direction received from the IURC in its 2019 Order which considers the various risks and economic impacts of each step. We are confident this plan will assist in keeping customer rates reasonable while leaving room for flexibility as the future of electric generation continues to evolve."

Last April, the IURC granted partial approval of Vectren's electric generation transition plan which included the retrofitting of Vectren's largest, most-efficient 270 MW coal-fired unit. The request to begin construction of a 50 MW universal solar array was also approved by the IURC last year, and its construction is underway.

The completed IRP will be submitted to the IURC on June 30. A director's report, detailing the IURC's comments, will likely be issued by the end of the year. Information about Vectren's IRP process can be found at www.vectren.com/irp.

"The proposed future portfolio further ensures southwestern Indiana remains in attainment for air quality and promotes additional economic development in our region where we live and work," stated Wilson. "Avoiding future coal maintenance investments will ensure local generation has a responsible renewable-to-carbon balance while ensuring the reliability our customers expect. We are incredibly sensitive to customer impact, and with stakeholder input, we feel this planning process has produced a cost-effective plan that moves us toward a future built on cleaner generation."

Vectren delivers electricity to approximately 145,000 customers in all or portions of Gibson, Dubois, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.

Forward Looking Statement
This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "goal," "intend," "may," "objective," "plan," "potential," "predict," "projection," "should," "target," "will" or other similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions of management which are believed to be reasonable at the time made and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual events and results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Any statements in this news release regarding future events, such as future regulatory filings, actions and decisions, including the timing and impact of such actions and decisions, the timing of completion of the projects identified in the IRP, the benefits derived from the preferred generation portfolio in the IRP, including resource diversification, estimated customer savings and carbon emission reduction targets, and any other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Each forward-looking statement contained in this news release speaks only as of the date of this release. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the provided forward-looking information include risks and uncertainties relating to: (1) the impact of COVID-19; (2) financial market conditions; (3) general economic conditions; (4) the timing and impact of future regulatory and legislative decisions; (5) effects of competition; (6) weather variations; (7) changes in business plans; and (8) other factors, risks and uncertainties discussed in CenterPoint Energy's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, CenterPoint Energy's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 and other reports CenterPoint Energy or its subsidiaries may file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) is an energy delivery company with electric transmission & distribution, power generation and natural gas distribution operations that serve more than 7 million metered customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. CenterPoint Energy's competitive energy businesses include energy-related services, energy efficiency and sustainability solutions, and owning and operating intrastate natural gas pipeline systems that help fund utility operations. As of March 31, 2020, the company owns approximately $33 billion in assets and also owns 53.7 percent of the common units representing limited partner interests in Enable Midstream Partners, LP, a publicly traded master limited partnership that owns, operates and develops strategically located natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With approximately 9,600 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.

About the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP)
The practice of conducting an IRP is a three-year process. Vectren's IRP takes into consideration the public's interest and is formed with respect to federal and state energy and environmental policy, both of which are rapidly changing for utilities. The utility conducted four public meetings between the months of April 2019 and June 2020, taking input from many key stakeholders. Learn more at www.vectren.com/irp.

Media contact: Natalie Hedde, (812) 491-5105 or natalie.hedde@centerpointenergy.com
Investor contact: Dave Mordy, (713) 207-6500 or david.mordy@centerpointenergy.com

SOURCE Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company


Download the Vectren presentation HERE:

Public Stakeholder Meeting #4 - June 15, 2020

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