In Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Cause Number 45700, NIPSCO wants customers to pay for their coal ash cleanup (plus a profit) by raising rates $40 million.
NIPSCO is proposing to close its five coal ash ponds at its Michigan City coal plant. After removing the water from these ponds, NIPSCO is excavating the coal ash and transporting it by truck to a properly lined landfill at its Schahfer coal plant where it can be safely disposed.
While removing the coal ash from its five coal ash ponds a good first step, NIPSCO is refusing to address a much bigger coal ash mess at its Michigan City coal plant. Beginning in the 1930s, sheet pile barriers were installed out onto Lake Michigan, with soil, sand, and coal ash mixed together and filled in behind the sheet pile barriers, creating “made land.” The sheet pile barriers that are holding back an estimated 2 million cubic yards of coal ash and soil fill are now corroding. If the sheet piles fail, it could result in a catastrophic release of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan.
NIPSCO wants to raise rates by $40 million, plus an annual profit for its shareholders to pay for its inadequate clean up at Michigan City. Even more insulting, NIPSCO wants families living in Northwest Indiana to subsidize the coal ash clean-up costs while it gives a large discount to its large industrial customers – and so its Wall Street shareholders don’t have to pay a dime. If approved, NIPSCO’s plan would increase the typical residential electric bill by $0.30 per month.
CAC is demanding a complete cleanup of all coal ash that has been unsafely disposed of at Michigan City. It is also fighting back on NIPSCO’s unfair proposals to make NIPSCO customers instead of NIPSCO shareholders pay for the cleanup. NIPSCO should not be allowed to profit on its failure to properly dispose toxic coal ash for many decades!
For more information, see IURC Cause No. 45700. NIPSCO’s petition was filed in March 2022. A field hearing was held in August, CAC and other parties filed testimony in September, and the evidentiary hearing was completed in November. A final decision is expected by early 2023. CAC’s written testimony is available here.