Donald Brown of NiSource (NYSE:NI) Reveals the Strategy for his Company

February 20, 2018

Donald Brown is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of NiSource Inc. Mr. Brown joined NiSource in April 2015 as an Executive Vice President in the finance department and became CFO upon the separation of Columbia Pipeline Group from NiSource on July 1, 2015. He has nearly 20 years of experience, including financial leadership and consulting roles at UGI Corp., Constellation Energy, Progress Energy and Deloitte. Prior to joining NiSource, Mr. Brown served as Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer for UGI Utilities, a division of UGI Corp. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, since 2010. From 2007 to 2010, he was Controller for UGI Utilities. He was Director of Treasury Services for UGI Corp. from 2005 to 2007. He is a member of the American Gas Association’s finance committee, and serves on the boards of United Way of Central Ohio, KIPP Columbus and City Year Columbus. Mr. Brown holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  In this interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Donald Brown details his company’s strategic vision and current investment plans.

Donald Brown oversees one of the largest local gas distribution systems in the USA.  “NiSource is one of the nation’s largest gas distribution companies but has no interstate pipelines. In northern Indiana, we’re known as NIPSCO and have natural gas and electric operations with almost 1.3 million customers. We’re known as Columbia Gas in the six other states, where we serve as the local gas distribution company to about 2.6 million customers. We operate approximately 60,000 miles of gas pipelines, four electric generating stations and an electric transmission system spanning more than 2,800 miles.”

Almost $2 billion each year is spent maintaining and upgrading these systems.  “On the gas side, it tends to be a lot of relatively small projects versus any one large project. These smaller projects are focused on replacing the pipeline on a street, which could be a $200,000 to $300,000 investment, or fixing a service line that goes into a customer’s home, which could be $3,000 to $5,000. Our total annual capital of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion is thousands of relatively small programmatic projects across our territories to improve infrastructure versus large one-time projects. Now having said that, we do have generation on our electric business, and we are currently making significant investments on environmental upgrades to our coal units. Still these are, I would say, more episodic investments on the generation side.”

The environmental concerns for this Midwestern electricity company are obvious.  “Think about our gas infrastructure. Part of that investment is not only to have stronger and more reliable pipe, but some of the older pipes have small leaks. While they may not pose a safety risk, from an environmental standpoint, the methane exposure from older leaky systems, for every mile we replace, we’re reducing our methane emissions. That’s a big focus of ours, and we expect to reduce our methane emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2025. On the electric side, we announced last year that we are retiring 50% of our coal generation units over two stages in 2018 and 2023. It’s something that we are really focused on.”

Read the full interview with Donald Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of NiSource, in the Wall Street Transcript.