During its final Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) public stakeholder meeting, Vectren Corporation, Evansville, Indiana, United States, a CenterPoint Energy company, has presented a preferred portfolio to diversify its electric generation fleet in the coming years. The plan ensures reliability and mitigates risk, while saving electric customers an estimated $320 million over the 20-year planning period. Nearly two-thirds of the energy included in the new plan will be generated from renewable resources, reducing reliance on carbon fuels and lowering carbon emissions by nearly 75% from 2005 levels. The plan replaces some older coal generation units with significant renewables, including a large percentage of universal solar. Vectren’s fourth and final public stakeholder meeting was conducted as part of the year-long integrated resource planning process, which is overseen by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
“The IRP considers a broad range of potential conditions and variables to determine a preferred fuel mix which allows Vectren to meet future electric energy demand in a safe and reliable manner,” said Lynnae Wilson, chief business officer, Indiana Electric. “Over the next several months, we will finalize our generation plan, taking into consideration cost, COVID-19 impacts, efficiency and reliability while recognizing the need for flexibility given ever-advancing technology in a rapidly evolving industry.”
Vectren’s IRP, submitted every three years to the IURC, demonstrates how the company plans to generate and deliver safe, reliable and reasonably priced electricity to its southwestern Indiana customers through a forecast spanning 20 years. This plan, which considers public stakeholder input, the outcomes of an All-Source RFP, and a wide variety of economic variables is the second consecutive IRP to demonstrate the utility should move toward resource diversity. Modeling conducted within the analysis points Vectren to:
- Retiring or exiting agreements involving 730 megawatts (MW) of coal generation, thereby avoiding investments estimated at $700 million to comply with strict environmental regulations
- Adding 700-1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar (some connected to battery energy storage) and 300 MW of wind renewable resources, which would allow all Vectren electric customers access to solar and wind-powered energy at significantly lower costs; and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 75%
- Adding 460 MW of natural gas combustion turbines; approximately half the natural gas capacity of the combined cycle gas turbine proposed in the previous IRP and designed to back up the renewable resources that supply the majority of customers’ energy needs
“Using what we have learned from this IRP process, we will be pursuing a much larger percentage of renewable energy, as well as continuing to offer energy efficiency programs to ensure customers have options to use energy wisely,” continued Wilson. “Customer and stakeholder engagement were focal points throughout this very important process, and we appreciate the thoughtful insights offered which helped us realize this plan. We are committed to developing a transition plan that is responsive to our customers and the direction received from the IURC in its 2019 Order which considers the various risks and economic impacts of each step. We are confident this plan will assist in keeping customer rates reasonable while leaving room for flexibility as the future of electric generation continues to evolve.”
Last April, the IURC granted partial approval of Vectren’s electric generation transition plan which included the retrofitting of Vectren’s largest, most-efficient 270 MW coal-fired unit. The request to begin construction of a 50 MW universal solar array was also approved by the IURC last year, and its construction is underway.
“The proposed future portfolio further ensures southwestern Indiana remains in attainment for air quality and promotes additional economic development in our region where we live and work,” stated Wilson. “Avoiding future coal maintenance investments will ensure local generation has a responsible renewable-to-carbon balance while ensuring the reliability our customers expect. We are incredibly sensitive to customer impact, and with stakeholder input, we feel this planning process has produced a cost-effective plan that moves us toward a future built on cleaner generation.”
Vectren delivers electricity to approximately 145,000 customers in all or portions of Gibson, Dubois, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) is an energy delivery company with electric transmission & distribution, power generation and natural gas distribution operations that serve more than 7 million metered customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. CenterPoint Energy’s competitive energy businesses include energy-related services, energy efficiency and sustainability solutions, and owning and operating intrastate natural gas pipeline systems that help fund utility operations. As of March 31, 2020, the company owns approximately $33 billion in assets and also owns 53.7 percent of the common units representing limited partner interests in Enable Midstream Partners, LP, a publicly traded master limited partnership that owns, operates and develops strategically located natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With approximately 9,600 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years.
About the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP)
The practice of conducting an IRP is a three-year process. Vectren’s IRP takes into consideration the public’s interest and is formed with respect to federal and state energy and environmental policy, both of which are rapidly changing for utilities. The utility conducted four public meetings between the months of April 2019 and June 2020, taking input from many key stakeholders.