Creating a Sustainable Energy Future

Melody Birmingham, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, NiSource

History often credits revolutionary technological shifts to single individuals or events. Examples include Samuel Morse and the telegraph, Thomas Edison and the light bulb, and a host of other pioneers of science. But “their” inventions drew on a rich collection of accumulated knowledge generated by predecessors and contemporaries whose names are seldom associated with such world-changing advances.

Edison is a key example of this phenomenon. The concept of electric light had in fact been demonstrated decades earlier, and at the time that Edison pursued his solution, several patents for incandescent lights had already been filed in Europe, Canada and the United States.

But it was Edison who entered the history books as the “inventor” of a viable light bulb, a distinction made possible not only through his use of key advances developed by others over the years but more importantly, by the work conducted by his team of researchers including Lewis H. Latimer at his Menlo Park lab. Thanks in large part to their labors, Edison was able to bring the first commercially feasible incandescent light bulb to the public.

The truth is that the greatest technological advances are the product of collaborative effort. By working together to pursue a common goal and building on the best ideas produced by a diverse pool of talent, we can continue to produce practical, sustainable solutions to address the challenges of the years ahead. And nowhere is the need for cooperation more important than in our shared energy future.

That’s why we are determined to take a collaborative approach to designing and implementing a long-term energy plan that balances the needs of our customers. We believe that people should be at the center of any decision about the future of energy. To achieve that goal, our Indiana-based energy provider NIPSCO, for example, is pursuing a long-term plan to gradually phase out coal-fired electric generation, and shift operations to a more balanced and reliable energy mix, including lower-cost, cleaner energy sources, including wind, solar, natural gas and battery storage technology.

We put a premium on collaboration because we realize that we are not simply a commercial enterprise that generates and sells energy. We are a team that comprises our employees, business partners, customers, and the communities we serve, all working together to secure our energy future.

Our diverse internal and external stakeholders have a voice in shaping that future because it is only by enlisting the participation and input of these diverse parties that we will be able to create a new energy mix that is not only reliable and at a cost that customers value, but also resilient and environmentally sound. These collective efforts also act to strengthen our unwavering focus on sustainability, and provide us with the insights we need to protect and honor the interests of all of our stakeholders.

Our Your Energy, Your Future collaborative strategy also ensures that all the activities implemented through our new business paradigm provide financial, economic, social, and environmental benefits to all our stakeholders, including our most economically vulnerable customers.

While cost and reliability are essential factors, the plan also will benefit the environment—targeting a 90 percent reduction in Scope 1 carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. In November 2022, the company also announced its Net Zero initiative —which aims to reach zero carbon emissions by 2040 through expanded reductions of emissions from the company’s direct and indirect operations (also referred to as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions).

The plan will also benefit the regional economy by providing lower-cost, renewable energy that will make our region more competitive; by installing renewable energy technologies that spur economic development and investment; and by opening the door to retraining and workforce development opportunities in renewable energy. (NIPSCO has sold, and may in the future sell, renewable energy credits from its renewable generation to third parties because this helps keep the cost of energy more affordable for our customers.)

Perhaps most importantly, the collaborative approach to innovation that defines Your Energy, Your Future, will bolster our ability to adapt quickly to change and ensure that our customers have access to a reliable and ecologically sound energy mix in the years ahead. And best of all, we will all have played a role in shaping that future.