I&M looks ahead at 2016

Published 9:28 am Friday, January 15, 2016

Indiana Michigan Power begins 2016 with a giant leap into the future by bringing the power of the sun to generate some of the energy coming to you.

Solar is another form of renewable energy in I&M’s generation portfolio, which already includes hydro facilities and purchased wind power. More diverse generation sources provide more flexibility to deal with changing conditions. Adding solar is also important to meet our customers’ expectation for more renewable energy as well as a crucial step toward meeting the energy needs of the future.

As your hometown energy provider, the addition of solar power is an example of how I&M is embracing technology advances and enhancing the reliability of our system. We constantly look at ways to better fulfill our mission to provide safe, reliable, low-cost electricity – not just today but well into the future. So I’d like to outline for you some of what we’re doing – in 2016 and beyond.

The Deer Creek Solar Facility, just south of Marion, Indiana, went online Dec. 31. I&M will build three more large-scale facilities this year in our service area in Indiana and Michigan. Together, the four sites will have the capacity to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 2,000 homes for a year.

Also this year, customers will continue to see more new towers going up in numerous parts of our service territory as we work to enhance the reliability of our transmission system, which include more than 5,200 miles of lines that carry energy over long distances.

I&M is also planning extensive work on its distribution system – which includes more than 20,000 miles of lines that deliver energy from substations to your homes and businesses. In addition to the traditional poles and wires, crews have begun adding equipment employing an advanced technology to achieve the optimum voltage to customers, reducing loss of energy over lines and reducing customers’ energy use.

I&M is continuing our energy efficiency and demand-side management programs that have saved more than 475,000 megawatt hours of energy over the years 2010-2014.

Beyond 2016, our 20-year plan calls for expanding renewable energy and encouraging more efficiency while making the best use of our current generation sources.

Certainly, more large-scale solar and wind power is likely in I&M’s future. At the same time, I&M is making sound investments at Cook Nuclear Plant to ensure its two nuclear reactors continue to safely produce low-cost, emission-free energy through at least 2034 and 2036, respectively.

Of course, no one knows today for certain what the electric utility of the year 2036 will look like. Something that won’t change is I&M’s focus on our customers. Employing innovative technology like I&M On the Go Mobile Alerts that give customers the option of receiving outage and billing updates via text or e-mail, we continue to strive to improve customers’ experiences with I&M. As your hometown energy provider, it is our pledge to keep the lights on, embrace the innovation and technology at our fingertips and serve you the way you deserve to be served.

Paul Chodak III is President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power.