US solar delays prompt Indiana utility to push back coal retirements

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The DOC circumvention investigation has pushed back NiSource’s completion of its solar PV and co-located projects from six to 18 months. Image: Unsplash.

US utility company NiSource has pushed back the shutdown of some of its coal units owing to delays on the completion of some of its solar PV and co-located projects.

Delays of six to 18 months are expected for projects that were due to be completed this year or in 2023, with NiSource citing the US Department of Commerce’s (DOC) circumvention investigation as the cause of such delays.

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The news comes less than a week after the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) published the results of a survey which found developers had already suffered shipment delays or cancellations caused by the DOC investigation of alleged circumvention of antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD).

Different US solar players have already forecast similar delays to the completion of solar PV projects as some suppliers are reluctant to ship panels to the US until the DOC makes a preliminary determination by August.

Furthermore, due to the delays in its solar PV projects, NiSource has been forced to push back the retirement of two of its coal units in Indiana from May 2023 until 2025, as solar capacity planned to come onstream would not be completed in time to replace the energy generated by coal.

The remainder of NiSource’s coal facilities are still on track to be shut down between 2026-2028 and the utility does not expect any further delays on solar and energy storage projects beyond 2025.

Despite the disruptions on its solar PV projects, NiSource will still be on track to make capital investments of more than US$10 billion during the 2021-2024 period, with US$2 billion of renewable investment in the next two years and with any remainder to be invested in 2025.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of US senators waded into the contentious AD/CVD investigation urging the Biden administration to expedite the review as it is affecting the entire solar industry and could cost the loss of more than 100,000 jobs.

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