- The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last week approved a seven-year grid modernization plan for Vectren Energy Delivery's southern territory, with a typical residential customer paying $1 to $2 more per month, beginning next year.
- The plan includes underground cable replacements, equipment and system upgrades at substations, and additional pole inspections and modernization.
- IURC's decision comes a month after regulators also approved Vectren's plan to construct community solar farms on its system that could begin supplying renewable energy by the end of 2018.
Per a settlement with advocates and industrial consumers, regulators trimmed Vectren's modernization plan by almost $70 million. But the utility said it will still move ahead with more than 800 individual projects and expects customers to see real improvements.
The settlement, with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and a coalition of industrial customers, reduced the original $514 million filing to $446 million in grid modernization investments.
“Over the next several years, the modernization work will ensure we are more capable of meeting the energy demands of our customers in the coming years and that our electric infrastructure can continue to serve our customers reliably,” Vectren Chairman, President and CEO Carl Chapman said in a statement.
Customer bills will be "gradually adjusted," likely beginning in early 2018, and adjustments will continue with modest increases in subsequent years, the company said. In 2018, the typical Vectren residential electric customer will pay $1 to $2 more per month, but as a result of the settlement, bill impacts at the end of the seven-year period were reduced to $16 to $17 per month.
Underground cable replacement projects are expected to reduce the risk of unplanned outages, lead to faster outage restoration and improve distribution grid power quality and reliability. Equipment and system upgrades will help provide shorter restoration times "due to enhanced operational flexibility" as well as "increased system integrity and improved electric system performance."
Under the universal solar program approved over the summer, Vectren will construct a pair of 2 MW projects in Vanderburgh County, with one also including a 1 MW / 4 MWh battery storage component.
The 4 MW of clean energy will power 600 homes each year and is a step towards a more balanced portfolio, officials said. “Adding this partnership to our existing wind energy agreements continues Vectren’s plan toward creating a more balanced energy mix for our electric generation portfolio,” Chapman said.
Vectren plans to begin construction on the universal solar projects early next year, with the solar farms coming online by the end of 2018, although the company said "the construction timeline may be accelerated if timely material delivery and weather allow."