Photo: Duke Energy (Flickr)
Indiana electric companies predict this summer‘s power consumption could be the highest in four years — a sign that the economy is on the rebound. When the recession deepened in 2009, peak power usage plummeted by 12%. A better economy and a 950 heat wave made up most of that gap last year. Nipsco COO Michael Finissi says his company is planning for another three-percent increase this year — but wouldn‘t be surprised if it doesn‘t happen.
“We will continue to invest in our generation, transmission and distribution systems,” he said. “We will continue to get the expected results to make sure we are prudently investing our resources. “
Indianapolis Power and Light predicts a slight dip from last year, but still above the two recession years which preceded it. Between purchase contracts and their own generating capacity, both utilities predict no trouble meeting demand.
IPL and Nipsco were among five utilities appearing before the Indiana utility regulatory commission to outline how they plan to meet increased summer demand. The commission has held the annual hearing for more than a decade, ever since a sweltering summer brought several utilities to the brink of rolling blackouts.
Since then, most utilities have begun “interruptible power” programs, offering customers a break on their bills if they agree to let the power company turn their power off briefly if needed to conserve electricity.
On Tuesday, the IURC will hear from four more utilities and the Carmel-based Midwest Independent System Operator, which oversees a Midwestern swath of the national power grid.