This ambitious goal is all the more remarkable because NIPSCO is currently 65% coal dependent.
A growing number of utility executives are acknowledging that renewables are out-competing coal—and adjusting their future growth plans as a result—but it's still worthy of note when the president of a midwestern energy utility that is 65% dependent on coal says she wants to go coal-free in the next ten years.
That's exactly what happened in an interview that Violet Sistovaris, President of NIPSCO, granted to Inside Indiana Business. Right from the get-go it makes for eye-opening and encouraging reading for those of us who believe renewables are the future:
The president of Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) says she is seeing a "real revolution" in the energy industry, and wants to make sure the utility is part of the movement. Violet Sistovaris says that’s much of the motivation behind the utility’s "Your Energy, Your Future" effort.
The goal is simple, but ambitious: cut coal dependency, which is currently about 65 percent, down to essentially zero over the next 10 years. Instead, NIPSCO will increase its pursuit of largely renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind energy, along with battery storage technology. She says the plan "envisions a brighter future that delivers the energy our customers need while reducing emissions and focusing on the long-term strength of our local economy."
Granted, the Your Energy, Your Future campaign comes within the context of NIPSCO seeking an $11 a month rate increase—so I'm sure it will get the anti-environmentalist, Agenda 21 crowd in a tizzy. (Indeed, The Heartland Institute are already complaining about it.) But Sistovaris is right to frame a transition to renewables as a long-term investment that should eventually lead to both lower costs for consumers and a significant drop in pollution.
In fact, if successful, NIPSCO claims it will achieve a whopping 90% cut in carbon emissions within the next ten years. That, right there, is a rather astounding and laudable level of ambition—and it's exactly the kind of effort we need for decarbonization to keep pace with the changing climate. It's also notable that it is coming from a coal-dependent utility in the Midwest, not from the so-called coastal elites with their well-known "elitist" hatred of asthma and air pollution.
I'm excited to see this initiative roll out. And, more importantly, I'm excited for what it tells us about the broader state of the energy industry. I look forward to other energy companies following in NIPSCO's footsteps.