The seven-year plan includes projects ranging from replacing bare steel natural gas lines to installing 80 miles of transmission lines and building out to new customers in rural areas, according to a NIPSCO press release.
$280 million is allotted for the new transmission pipeline mileage. Eliminating bare steel gas mains and replacing low pressure systems is estimated to cost $61 million. Extending natural gas service to rural areas should come in at $99 million and retrofitting lines for in-line inspection should tally $46 million.
NIPSCO indicates the improvements shouldn’t mean large increases in utility bills. For the first two years of the plan, NIPSCO customers should see little to no change in their natural gas bills, then increases are expected to average out to about 1.4 percent annually after that.
In Cass County, where 11,453 customers including 1,303 commercial and industrial clients are located, the only project that’s been outlined so far is a set of upgrades to the Royal Center underground natural gas storage facility.
Investments there of just under $1 million in each of the seven years should maintain overall safety and strengthen the integrity of the infrastructure there, according to NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer. Those projects should range from installing new liners to replacing sections of pipes, valves and tanks, he said.
Parts of other segments of the plan may take place in Cass County as well, said Meyer, pending customer suggestions and market for new natural gas lines to rural areas. A portion of about $84.8 million set aside for work on pipeline attachments and crossings will also make its way into Cass County.
NIPSCO has not yet bid out any of the projects, Meyer said, but intends to seek local contractors for the work. Contracts are likely to be awarded in early to mid-2014.
The seven-year plan must be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission after input and review from other customer stakeholder groups including the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.
For more information about the plan, visit nipsco.com/modernize.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME