By: Giavonni Nickson
On February 11, 2019, Jennifer V. Montague delivered the keynote address at the Gary Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. NIPSCO announced the selection of Jennifer V. Montague as its Vice President of Communications and External Affairs a few months ago in November 2018.
Montague is responsible for customer-focused branding, marketing, economic development, municipal relations, media relations, advertising, charitable giving, employee communications, and engagement efforts for the combined electric and natural gas utility in northern Indiana.
She shared excitement about her new role with luncheon guests and acknowledged the state of the City of Gary and its growth through business partnerships, investments, and funding procurement from local, state, and the federal government.
“Gary is on the shores of opportunity. Through the leadership of Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson, this city has delivered new investments and these investments are beginning to pay dividends as businesses are embracing Gary as a place to grow,” said Montague.
During her keynote address, Montague shared NIPSCO’s strategies and goals for the business community in Northwest Indiana with a focus on NIPSCO’S partnership with Gary in four key areas to encourage growth.
- “Your Energy, Your Future” Plan
- Economic Development
- Shot Spotter Technology Public Safety Grant
- Infrastructure Upgrades
“Your Energy, Your Future” Plan
In October 2018 NIPSCO announced, “Your Energy, Your Future,” a customer-centric plan focused on the future energy needs of 1.2 million electric and natural gas customers in Northern Indiana. This plan was developed in conversation with a range of stakeholders—from local business leaders to residents and consumer advocates.
This plan will accelerate the retirement of all existing coal-fired power plants by 2028 and transition to lower-cost renewable energy sources through investment in balanced energy options making energy cleaner and more affordable.
The proposed changes equate to more than $4 billion in cost savings for customers and are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 90% through becoming coal-free by 2028.
“Over the long-term, the change will be very positive for our customers, for the economy, and for the environment. We see it as a win-win-win,” said Montague.
The number of renewable energy resources NIPSCO plans to add to its system over the next decade would more than double the amount of existing renewable energy in the state of Indiana. This move would rank Indiana among the leading renewable producers in the nation.
NIPSCO Supports Economic Development in Gary
NIPSCO was granted an Industrial Recovery Tax Credit (Dino Tax Credit) of $3.2 million for its demolition of the Dean H. Mitchell Generating Station.
NIPSCO started environmental remediation in August of 2016, began demolition in early 2017, and completed the environmental remediation and demolition of the former Dean H. Mitchell plant in December of 2018.
The Dean H. Mitchell plant was a coal-fired power plant that went into service in 1956 and was retired in the last decade. This former coal-fired power plant site has an estimated 100 acres of buildable land along Lake Michigan.
NIPSCO plans to work closely with the City of Gary to redevelop and strategize on the future use of the former power plant site. This site is expected to be a key part of the future development of Buffington Harbor and the Port of Gary.
The recently announced $600 to $700 million, Fulcrum Bioenergy, waste to jet fuel project will be located just south of the former Dean H. Mitchell Generating Station site.
Shot Spotter Technology Public Safety Grant
NIPSCO is currently working on a project with the City of Gary using a NIPSCO public safety grant and working with an outside vendor to award Gary with Databuoy Shotpoint gunshot technology.
This equipment is based on an acoustic sensor network that detects gunshots from small handguns to high caliber rifles and automatically locates the source. With ShotPoint, a collection of sensors cover an area, each with the ability to sense, compute, locate, and communicate. This technology is planned for a large radius centered near 33rd Ave. and Broadway close to the Indiana University Northwest campus. NIPSCO and Gary are planning to start the installation this month. This is nearly a $100,000 investment.
“When we can work to leverage available technology and support Gary’s goal to improve public safety, that’s what powering communities is all about. NIPSCO is proud of this partnership and looks forward to the positive change and impact to the lives of many who live and work in the city.”- Montague
Infrastructure Upgrade Projects
In 2019, NIPSCO plans to upgrade over 14 miles of new electrical circuit and install approximately 570 new poles within the city while continuing upgrades to the natural gas system. NIPSCO is in year 4 of a 6-year capitalization project to replace old antiquated 6-inch steel pipe with a safer and more dependable plastic molded pipe. The project will install 370K feet of natural gas pipeline. So far 165K ft has been completed. In 2019 the project focus is on Clark Rd and Grant St between 11th and 19th Ave.
Jennifer Montague closed the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon by citing an African Proverb;“ If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“NIPSCO is so very proud to be partnering with Gary to accomplish great things. We value the ongoing dialogue and positive working relationship we’ve developed with the community. We expect to go far and deliver on the shores of opportunity for Gary” -Jennifer Montague NIPSCO VP of Communications and External Affairs.