Public hearings scheduled for proposed I&M rate hike

If you are an Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) customer and would like to comment on the utility’s pending rate request, you have several opportunities.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), is reviewing I&M’s request and is scheduled to file testimony on November 7, 2017.

Along with its legal and technical review, the OUCC is inviting written comments from I&M’s residential, commercial, and industrial customers through November 2, 2017.

In addition, the IURC will hold a series of public field hearings throughout I&M’s service territory:

  • Monday, October 2, 2017 in South Bend: South Bend Century Center, Recital Hall, 120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 in Fort Wayne: Grand Wayne Convention Center, Calhoun Ballroom A, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.
  • Monday, October 30, 2017 in Muncie: Muncie City Hall Auditorium, 300 N. High St.

Each IURC public field hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m. local time. Consumers are encouraged to arrive no later than 5:45 p.m. for an overview of field hearing procedures and the rate case process.

At each IURC field hearing:

  • Consumers will be able to speak directly to the Commission, under oath and on the record, regarding the rate case.
  • Consumers will also be able to submit written comments for the case record.
  • Comments will carry equal weight whether they are oral or written.

Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing. However, OUCC staff will be available before, during, and after the hearing to address questions about the process.

I&M provides electric service to approximately 458,000 customers in 24 Indiana counties. Its pending request would raise rates in two phases, with increases taking effect on July 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019.

According to I&M’s testimony and exhibits, its request would raise a monthly residential electric bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) from $125.88 to $151.16 if and when the proposed increase is fully implemented.
• This would include increasing the flat, monthly residential customer charge from $7.30 to $18.00. The flat, monthly service charge for most small commercial customers would rise from $9.70 to $19.00.

• The “energy charge,” or the part of the base rate that varies by usage, would also rise.
• The request would give I&M’s Indiana utility a $263.2 million increase in overall annual operating revenues, which is an increase of approximately 19.7 percent over current revenues.

• In its testimony and exhibits, I&M states that it is seeking the new rates due to increases in operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for numerous capital improvements. The utility’s request includes retirement and remediation costs at the former Tanners Creek Generating Station, multiple projects at the D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant including replacement of Unit One’s turbine, projects at the Rockport Generating Station including a turbine upgrade and construction projects aimed at compliance with federal environmental regulations, and nuclear fuel storage, along with the replacement of underground cables, overhead conductors, and deteriorated wooden poles throughout the utility’s Indiana distribution system.

• I&M’s current electric base rates received IURC approval in 2013. However, bills have increased since then due to rate recovery mechanisms – or “trackers” – which allow rate increases for specific items on an expedited basis.

• Trackers are separate from base rates and are subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.

• All Indiana investor-owned electric utilities use trackers to varying degrees.

• I&M uses trackers to recover costs for generating fuel, energy efficiency programs, environmental mandates, regional transmission, nuclear life cycle management, solar energy development, off-system sales, and cost variances relating to an AEP capacity pooling agreement.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC’s Website at http://www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email, or fax:

• Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
• email: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
• Fax: (317) 232-5923

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than November 2, 2017 so that it can: 1) Consider them in preparing its testimony and 2) File them with the Commission to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44967.” Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

Several additional parties have intervened in this case and are also scheduled to file testimony on November 7, 2017. They include the Kroger Co., Wal-Mart Stores East LP, Sam’s East, Inc., the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the City of Fort Wayne, and the following industrial customers: General Motors LLC, I/N Tek LP, Marathon Petroleum Company LP, Praxair, Inc., and The Linde Group.

A final order in the case is expected next spring. The OUCC is posting case updates online at http://www.in.gov/oucc/2885.htm