A Boondoggle in Hoosierland

From James Taylor at American Spectator.

Under a renewable energy proposal from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Indiana consumers would face a 12 percent electricity rate hike, which will cost the average household more than $100 per year in additional electricity costs. NIPSCO is justifying its renewable power rate hike by asserting renewable power saves consumers money, but there’s absolutely no truth to these claims.

Indiana ranks seventh in the nation in coal production and generates 68 percent of its power from coal. Together, affordable coal and natural gas generate 95 percent of Indiana’s electricity. As a result, Indiana electricity prices are substantially lower than the national average. National electricity prices are 10 percent higher than in Indiana.

Unfortunately, NIPSCO wants to put an end to these low prices. It is proposing to shut down two perfectly functioning coal power plants that provide much of NIPSCO’s low-cost electricity. In their place, NIPSCO wants to build expensive wind and solar power equipment and battery storage for when the wind isn’t blowing or the Sun isn’t shining. NIPSCO claims transitioning from affordable coal power to wind and solar will save consumers money, but at the same time that it makes these unfounded claims, NIPSCO is proposing to hike electricity rates 12 percent to pay for the renewable energy “savings.”

NIPSCO is a government-protected monopoly utility, with Indiana state government guaranteeing NIPSCO a profit of approximately 10 percent for every dollar it spends. Accordingly, NIPSCO has a financial self-interest to engage in costly business practices. Building expensive new power facilities, even when existing facilities are working perfectly well, is one of the most effective ways for NIPSCO to ramp up its spending and guaranteed profits, and it does so at the expense of consumers, many of whom will have no knowledge that their electricity bills are about to rise substantially.

In return for NIPSCO receiving guaranteed profits on its expenditures, the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission (IURC) must approve any NIPSCO major investment proposals. In its filing with the IURC, NIPSCO claims its proposal to shut down its coal power plants will save consumers more than $4 billion.

More at the above link.

Which it won’t, not least because windpower installations rarely last beyond 20 years, solar I don’t know, but doubt they are any more durable, and with current technology, batteries won’t last a decade.

It’s pie in the sky bullshit, dreamed up to placate the left, which many of the executives of these companies are of anyway.

But a blast from the past for me. NIPSCO was part of my growing up. As I’ve said, my dad ran a Rural Electric Coop, one of those local associations formed when companies like NIPSCO wouldn’t extend their lines out into the country (mostly farms in those days). Those coops had a love/hate relationship with the privately owned companies. Bought power from them, sometimes even shared poles, but fought like brother and sisters about everything, especially the price of power. In the field, we cooperated fine, which is normal.

So as it happened, dad knew the guy that built NIPSCO from a pretty small municipal water company to the electric and gas utility for most of northern Indiana. Knew him and respected him, and it was returned. They often opposed each other, but each knew the other would fight reasonably fairly.

When I was in my early teens I came by dad’s office one day (most days, really), his secretary waved me off, he had a visitor, not uncommon. I went and amused myself in the shop. A half hour or so later here came dad with a guy in the nicest suit I’d ever seen through our pretty neat but not sparkling shop. He was the CEO of NIPSCO, and the three of us spent a couple hours sitting on shop stools, shooting the breeze. He was a pretty interesting guy to talk to, much more of an office guy than dad was. Learned quite a bit that afternoon. Never forgot how nice he was to me, and how complimentary to dad, either.

Doesn’t happen much like that anymore, that respect for the opposition, the world has changed, and not for the better. Hard men, but fair, now we have soft men (boys really, more than I was at 13) but completely willing to employ any means to win, fair or not. And mostly, that’s what is running our government and our companies, even our unions these days. Running it all, right into the ground.

This deal? Par for the course. Good deal perhaps for the shareholders, certainly for the management, crap for the customer.

No better, no worse than any other alternative energy scheme, really. It’s all the same.

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