Paul Chodak III
Indiana Michigan Power is marking two historic milestones this summer:
• In a few weeks, I&M will begin building a solar facility in Marion, marking the company's first – but by no means last – move into generating electricity using the sun.
•As of June 1, more than 50 percent of I&M's generation portfolio consists of non-carbon-emitting sources.
I&M's embrace of renewable energy is already visible to residents of East Central Indiana. The 200 megawatts of electricity produced by Headwaters Wind Farm in Randolph County goes directly to I&M's transmission system.
By the end of 2016, our solar facility in Marion and three in the Michiana area will generate a combined 15 MW of electricity for our customers. Perhaps more importantly, because solar will clearly be part of the energy equation going forward, this pilot project will help I&M become skilled at integrating solar into its generation portfolio.
I&M understands that our customers are increasingly interested in more use of renewable energy, and utility-scale solar is far more efficient and less costly per kilowatt hour than residential solar.
In addition, solar further diversifies our generation portfolio, which also includes wind, hydro, the Cook Nuclear Plant and coal – and diversity helps enhance reliability. A diverse generation portfolio gives I&M more flexibility to adapt to changes in the economy, government regulations and a host of other potential circumstances.
This step is just one example of the many ways that I&M is taking to serve you. In addition:
• I&M is adding technology to circuits that will automatically reduce energy consumption for many customers.
•I&M On the Go Mobile Alerts now provide information regarding an outage at your property.
• I&M understands that building and moving wires and poles can impact our customers, so we pro-actively communicate our plans to affected customers, seeking feedback and working to mitigate property owners' concerns.
•I&M plans major investments in our distribution system, which delivers power from substations to your home or business. Though Indiana regulators recently turned down our proposed Reliability Enhancement Program, they did not question the need to replace thousands of poles, hundreds of miles of wire and other equipment.
• I&M is making major investments to reduce emissions at our sole remaining coal generating plant in southern Indiana.
Some of our work lies behind the scenes, in engineering and honing our processes. Some of our work, like new solar facilities, will be visible. On behalf of our employees, and as a member of the communities we serve, we at I&M believe in investing in you, our hometown and our future together.
Paul Chodak III is president and chief operating officer of Indiana Michigan Power.