NIPSCOs Michigan City Generating Station on Lake Michigan. Staff photo by Joseph S. Pete
NIPSCOs Michigan City Generating Station on Lake Michigan. Staff photo by Joseph S. Pete
NIPSCO announced it could retire its coal-fired Michigan City Generating Station on the Lake Michigan lakefront up to two years earlier than previously announced.

The Merrillville-based utility refined its plans for decarbonizing its electric generation through its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan public advisory process. NIPSCO now says it will retire the generating station in Michigan City between 2026 and 2028 instead of the previously announced retirement date of 2028.

NIPSCO will turn to solar, energy storage and upgrades at the Sugar Creek Generating Station to replace the coal-fired plant on the shoreline, where the towering Hoosier Slide sand dunes once stood west of Washington Park in Michigan City.

The utility also plans to replace vintage gas peaking units at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Jasper County with a new natural gas peaking unit.

NIPSCO will retire the coal units at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in 2023 as previously announced. It will retire the older gas units there between 2025 and 2028.

The electric and natural gas utility said it remains on track to reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030, as compared to 2005.

“We’re on an industry-leading path to shift toward lower-cost and reliable forms of energy for our customers,” said Mike Hooper, NIPSCO president. “As we continue this journey, we recognize the importance of maintaining a diverse energy portfolio that enables flexibility to adapt to evolving market rules, policy and technology advancements, while providing additional time for continued research and refinement of our long-term energy strategy. Meanwhile, careful consideration for how this transition affects our workforce and local communities is a critical focus area as the plan continues to move forward.”

NIPSCO determined it is still most cost-effective to retire coal units early as part of a shift to wind, solar and batteries. It may also potentially pursue hydrogen projects and other new technologies that would decarbonize its electric generation portfolio.

Next year, NIPSCO plans a number of transmission upgrades in Michigan City before it retires the power plant along the lakeshore there. The company said it continues to make progress on 14 different projects that would generate renewable energy, including wind farms and solar installations downstate.

It for instance is building out Dunnes Bridge Solar that will generate 700 MW of solar energy in Jasper County once the first two phases are completed by 2023.
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