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New study: Indiana utilities could save customers $73 million by embracing advanced energy tech over new gas plants

Posted by Adam Winer on May 3, 2023

The report analyzed battery storage compared to natural gas “peakers” currently proposed by Indiana utilities

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 3, 2023 – Some of the largest utilities in Indiana could save their customers a combined $73.1 million by switching to advanced energy technologies instead of moving forward with plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The finding comes in a new study by Strategen Consulting, which analyzed several scenarios that considered a range of fuel and technology costs and deployment strategies and found that the utilities could achieve equivalent reliability and save their customers millions of dollars by building battery storage instead of new natural gas combustion turbines.

The savings potential in the battery system’s first year of deployment is: 

  • Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO): $3.43 million in 2027
  • Indiana Michigan Power Company (I&M): $66.17 million in 2028
  • CenterPoint Energy Indiana: $3.50 million in 2025

The report is the second in a two-part series. In February, Part 1 found that Duke Energy Indiana could build a portfolio of solar, wind, and storage instead of a new baseload natural gas power plant and save its customers $68.5 million in year one. Both reports also discuss the additional risks of new natural gas plants, including fuel cost volatility, stranded assets, and reliability.

Each of these utilities completed their plans in 2020 and 2021. Since then, the advanced energy markets have experienced several fundamental economic shifts, especially related to the price of natural gas and federal policy. These reports call for Indiana utilities to reassess their resource plans in light of these changing conditions in order to ensure that they are choosing the least-cost, least-risk path forward.

“Indiana utilities are on the verge of committing many hundreds of millions of their customers’ dollars on expensive and outdated technology when there are better, lower-cost, and lower-risk alternatives,” said Trish Demeter, managing director at Advanced Energy United, the national business association, which commissioned the studies. “Indiana utilities made their plans to build these costly power plants back before fuels got more expensive and renewable energy technologies got a whole lot cheaper. This analysis shows advanced energy tech provides a more affordable path to building a reliable and modern electric grid for Hoosiers.”

The report also highlights how leveraging benefits and savings enabled by the Affordable Clean Energy Plan would allow utilities to meet capacity and their customers’ reliability needs at an even lower cost than natural gas.

“Customers across the country are taking advantage of the tremendous benefits clean energy resources deliver, including lower and more stable electric costs, cleaner air and water, and maintained or strengthened reliability,” said Ed Burgess, Consulting Partner at Strategen, which conducted the analyses. “There has never been a better time for Indiana to look beyond a business-as-usual approach and modernize its energy grid by replacing polluting fossil fuels with low-cost, plentiful clean energy.”

Currently, Indiana generates nearly 90% of its electricity by burning fossil fuels and asks its residents to pay more for their electricity than 70% of the country, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Read and download the newest report here.  

Read and download the Duke Energy Indiana report here.

Topics: State Policy, Press Releases, Indiana, Trish Demeter