Indiana American Water hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 5 for a new solar array at the Northwest Indiana Distribution Center in Gary. This solar array not only provides an environmentally conscious energy source but will ultimately reduce our operating costs and keep water rates more affordable for customers in the long run.
Indiana American Water President Matt Prine explained Indiana American Water, a subsidiary of American Water, is the largest water and wastewater utility provider in the state of Indiana, providing water services to over 1.3 million Hoosiers. Being a water company servicing such a large customer base brings the responsibility of being conscious of the long-term effects that can be made on the environment, and this project is a huge step in the right direction.
“This project is a great example of our commitment to incorporating efficiency and sustainability components into our operations and facilities,” said Indiana American Water President Matt Prine. “Over the last several years, we have already significantly reduced our electrical usage and carbon footprint by constructing several LEED certified facilities, replacing many of our older pumps with variable frequency drives that adjust pumping levels based on demand, and implementing other electrical and water efficiency measures at our facilities across the state.”
To make this project a reality, Indiana American Water Partnered with NIPSCO. This partnership allows the companies to work together to achieve their environmental and financial goals.
“When we look at wellhead protections or water areas that we're trying to preserve, we can only do so much. It takes a partnership,” Prine said. “This is a great example where we were able to partner with NIPSCO to bring a solar array right into the heart of Gary, a large municipal area, and still be able to provide an environmentally friendly alternative for energy production.”
Public Affairs and Economic Development Manager for NIPSCO Alexius Barber explained that it is not only important to provide utilities to customers but it is important to ensure the environment and resources we need are protected and conserved.
“The investment in solar helps to move forward the initiative to greener, cleaner energy and being environmentally friendly from a utility standpoint. Reducing carbon emissions is more advantageous for our environment,” Barber said. “That's our goal, to be not only the utility provider but also conscious of our environment and what's important to our customers. This whole initiative factors into leaving a better future for our environment.”
The completion of this $600,000 solar array will provide enough power to meet the energy needs of the company’s facility at this location and will also abate more than 200 metric tons of CO2 annually.
American Water has a target to reduce our carbon emissions, and I'm pleased to announce that, as of the end of 2021, we had already achieved 93% of our 2025 goals," Prine said.
“This project not only benefits the environment but in the long run also benefits our customers by reducing our operating costs and keeping water rates more affordable,” Prine continued.
“This new solar array will generate nearly 300,000-kilowatt hours of electricity annually and produce approximately one million dollars in savings over the next 25 years.”
The vast majority of energy consumed by water utilities is used to pump water. American Water’s path to reduced energy consumption and resiliency is driven by using water more efficiently. In 2021, American Water added two new goals regarding Water Efficiency and Water Resiliency and is on track to meet both targets. By 2035, the company goal is to reduce the amount of water delivered per customer by 15 percent, compared to a 2015 baseline.
Over the past five years, American Water has accomplished a 4.3 percent reduction in water delivered per customer. Also, by 2030, the company will have improved its water system resiliency by increasing its Utility Resilience Index weighted average by 10 percent, from a 2020 baseline. By continuing to improve energy and water efficiency, system resiliency, as well as increasing procurement of renewable energy, and increasing its alternative-fuel fleet, the company continues to make progress.
The Gary solar energy project was designed and constructed through a collaborative partnership with Sweney Electric of Gary, Ind. and Night & Day Solar in Collinsville, Ill.For more information regarding Indiana American Water, visit indianaamwater.com.