Indiana Utility Seeks to Expand Net Metering and Offer a FIT

Customers of the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. will be able to sell more of their own renewable energy back to NIPSCO if state officials agree.

NIPSCO filed a request on July 19 to expand net metering and allow the utility to purchase electricity generated by customers’ renewable energy projects through a feed-in tariff rate.

The state’s current net metering limit is 10 kilowatts and is available only to residential customers and K-12 schools. The proposal would expand the rated capacity to 100 kilowatts and allow all customers to participate, including businesses.

NIPSCO’s net-metering program allows customers to connect to the grid and get credit for solar, wind and hydro energy they generate. The utility pays customers the amount that NIPSCO charges for electricity — 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Currently, 21 customers participate in the program.

If approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the proposal would also start a pilot program known as the Renewable Feed-In Electric Rate, which allows customers to connect generation sources up to 5 megawatts in capacity and sell the power to NIPSCO. The program would last through the end of 2013.

How much customers would be paid depends on the type of energy and (for wind) the capacity of the project. Solar power would pay 26 cents per kilowatt hour, wind units smaller than 100 kilowatt hours 17 cents, wind units between 100 kilowatt hours and 5 megawatts 10 cents, and biomass 7 cents. Customers would receive a check from NIPSCO.

The utility has capped the net metering proposal at 6 megawatts and the feed-in program at 30 megawatts. NIPSCO said if the cap is reached, total renewable energy generation would generate enough electricity for 10,000 homes for a year.

NIPSCO expects the IURC to rule on the request in the coming months, but did not have a more specific timeline.
Source: Gary Post Tribune article


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