Indiana regulators approve $1B NIPSCO upgrade plan

State regulators have approved Northern Indiana Public Service Co.'s plan to spend more than $1 billion over the next seven years to modernize much of its electrical network.

The Merrillville-based utility estimates rates for its 457,000 electricity customers will rise 0.5 percent in 2015 and then about 1 percent per year through 2020 under the plan approved Monday by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Those increases will cover 80 percent of the cost of the improvements under a state law approved last year that allows utilities to add surcharges to utility bills for basic infrastructure improvements.

The (Munster) Times reports the upgrades include the replacement of 450 miles of underground electric cable, rebuilding 500 miles of electric circuits, and replacing 75 substation transformers.

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