Sarah Bodner: Clearing the air on I & MPublished 4:05pm Thursday, July 25, 2013
In a recent guest column, Niles City Councilman David Mann expressed fear of widespread reductions in electric power, due in part to the possibility of aggressive government action against coal plants. While AEP/Indiana Michigan Power shares Council Mann’s belief that energy producers must work diligently to anticipate and meet the nation’s needs for electric power, his column left readers with the mistaken impression that I&M anticipates a shortage of electric power and more blackouts and brownouts.
While I&M does not directly serve the homes of Niles residents, the company does provide power to the Niles municipal electricity. Rest assured that I&M has ample capacity and does not anticipate any shortages that would interrupt that power.
The confluence of two unrelated notices may have caused some confusion:
• The Niles utility recently informed its customers about how to plan for power outages. Such precautions are prudent and appropriate, particularly in an area of the country where damaging windstorms and other acts of nature can temporarily disrupt power without notice.
• In April, an AEP affiliate reminded the Niles utility of an existing energy conservation program that would allow certain high-use customers – such as a municipal utility – to voluntarily reduce consumption during an emergency or time of high demand. The program is simply an efficient, sensible way to manage the electric grid while lowering the customer’s bill. In no way did this notice suggest AEP/Indiana Michigan Power expects a shortage of electric power or an increase in brownouts or blackouts.
Councilman Mann states his belief that the nation should invest in nuclear power and renewable energies, and I&M has been doing just that. We recently announced a contract to buy 200 megawatts of electricity from a soon-to-be-developed wind farm in Indiana. We are investing at Cook Nuclear Plant, which produces about 36 percent of I&M’s electricity, to ensure another 20 years of safe and reliable nuclear power. In addition, we are installing environmental retrofits on I&M’s coal-fired Rockport Plant and properly managing the retirement of older coal units.
Together, those steps will help assure that I&M is able to keep cost increases to a minimum while still allowing us to provide safe and reliable service into the future.
Sarah Bodner is director of Communications and Community Relations for Indiana Michigan Power. She wrote this for the Niles Daily Star and www.LeaderPub.com