(Photo supplied / Indiana-Michigan Power)
If you are an Indiana Michigan Power customer and want to comment on the utility company’s pending rate request, you have the option to do so.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency that represents consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), is reviewing the utility’s application and is expected to provide testimony on October 12, 2021.
In addition, the IURC will conduct on-site public hearings on August 24, 2021 in South Bend and September 7, 2021 in Fort Wayne.
Written consumer comments
The OUCC is using its legal and technical resources to review I & M’s request, including reviewing the utility’s books and operations, and is inviting customers for written comments by October 5, 2021.
Consumers wishing to comment on the case file are asked to do so in writing. Comments are welcome via the OUCC website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, per email to [email protected], or by post to:
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Advisor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
The OUCC must receive all written consumer comments no later than October 5, 2021 so that it can: 1) take them into account when preparing their testimony and 2) submit them to the commission for inclusion in the formal record of the case. Comments should include those of the consumer Surname, Mailing address, and a reference to either “Cause No. iurc 45576“Or Indiana Michigan Power. Consumers who have questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC Consumer Services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
The IURC public hearings at the request of I&M are planned for:
- Tuesday, August 24, 2021, South Bend: Century Center Recital Hall, 120 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
- Tuesday, September 7, 2021, in Fort Wayne: Purdue University Fort Wayne, Walb Student Union Classic Ballroom, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd.
Each hearing starts at 6:00 p.m. Consumers are asked to arrive by 5:45 p.m. to get an overview of the on-site consultation process and the tariff process. Participants must comply with all local health and safety regulations.
The sole purpose of any field hearing is to obtain public testimony.
- Consumers can speak directly to the Commission under oath and on record.
- Oral statements during the hearing become part of the case file. They have the same weight as written consumer comments sent to the OUCC by October 5th.
- Utilities do not give presentations or answer questions during the on-site hearings. Again, the focus is on public input. In this case, I&M submitted testimony and exhibits in July 2021.
- Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions about the case. You will ultimately make a decision after weighing the evidence from the utility, the OUCC, and the parties involved.
- No final decisions are made at the field hearings.
The OUCC information video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAodsxYkwkY and www.facebook.com/258215110964494/videos/806561993370023.
I&M supplies around 470,000 customers in 24 Indiana counties with electricity. His pending application would raise interest rates in two stages; Increases would come into effect: 1) when a commission order is issued in 2022 and 2) on January 1, 2023.
If approved, I & M’s proposal would increase annual operating revenues by $ 104 million, an increase of about 6.5 percent when fully implemented.
According to I & M’s statements and exhibits, if fully implemented, the utility company’s proposal would increase a monthly electricity bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) from $ 157.82 to $ 167.29.
- The monthly residential fee would increase from $ 15.00 to $ 20.00 at the request of the utility. The monthly service fee for most small business customers would increase from $ 19.00 to $ 25.00.
- The “energy price” or a consumption-dependent part of the basic tariff would also rise.
- In this case, I & M’s documents state that it is striving for new tariffs due to increased operating and maintenance costs as well as infrastructure improvements. The utility’s records mention replacement of aging lines and masts, substation upgrades, new advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), vegetation management, new infrastructure for charging stations for electric vehicles, higher regional transmission costs, additional technology to improve network reliability, completion of life cycle management (LCM ) Projects at Cook Nuclear Power Plant and projects at Rockport Generating Station, including coal ash disposal.
- I & M’s current base tariffs were approved by the IURC in March 2020, the previous tariffs were approved in May 2018. However, billing amounts have changed since then due to tariff recovery mechanisms – also known as riders or trackers – that allow tariff increases or decreases for certain lines to allow items on an expedited basis.
- Drivers are separated from the basic tariffs. They are subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.
- All investor-owned utility companies in Indiana use drivers to varying degrees.
- I&M uses drivers to cover costs for fuel generation, energy efficiency programs, environmental regulations, regional transmission, off-system sales, resource adequacy, solar energy and nuclear life cycle management.
- In this case, I&M suggests introducing a new AMI driver to pay for the installation of new meters across Indiana’s service area after 2022; Use a tax tab to reimburse federal income tax savings and reimburse costs related to future changes to federal or state income tax law; and the termination of its LCM driving program, with projects at the Cook Nuclear Power Plant expected to be completed in 2022. The utility suggests updating the rest of its current driving programs and continuing.
In this case, other parties intervened. These include local governments (Fort Wayne, Marion, Muncie, and South Bend), the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Wabash Valley Power Alliance, The Kroger Co., and industrial customers (including I / N Tek LP, Linde, Inc., Marathon Petroleum Company , Messer LLC and Steel Dynamics, Inc.). Any testimony from the interveners is due on October 12, 2021.
A settlement agreement is possible in any legal proceeding. If an agreement is reached, the parties to the settlement are obliged to provide evidence showing that it is in the public interest. The IURC can approve, reject, or change any agreement it contemplates.
A final order from the Commission is currently expected in spring 2022.