Chesterton Tribune

Comment sought on Indiana American Water Company proposed 6 percent rate hike

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Northwest Indiana consumers are being invited to comment on Indiana American Water Company’s (IAWC’s) request for a 6.19 percent rate hike.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC)—the state agency representing consumer interests in all cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC)—is accepting written consumer comments for the case record through Sept. 28.

The OUCC is also encouraging IAWC customers to attend the IURC’s upcoming public field hearing in this case, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, in Gary, at the Common Council Chambers, Gary City Hall, 401 Broadway, Suite 209.

Sworn oral and written comments regarding the rate case will be accepted at this field hearing, the OUCC said. Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight, and will become part of the official evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision.

Although commissioners themselves are not permitted to answer consumer questions during this formal field hearing, OUCC and IURC staff will be available before, during, and after each hearing.

An OUCC informational session on the regulatory process and public field hearing procedures will precede each hearing, starting at 5:30 p.m..

IAWC states in testimony that it is seeking $20.3 million in new annual operating revenues due to a large number of distribution and transmission system improvements throughout its service territories. While the request would increase the utility’s total operating revenues by 10.48 percent, specific increases would vary by service territory.

The average household in Northwest Indiana is currently paying $38.94 per month for water. A 6.19-percent hike, if authorized by the IURC, would increase that amount to $41.52.

IAWC is seeking different rate increases in different areas of its service territory. Right now, Northwest Indiana customers pay the second highest average monthly rate, according to the OUCC: Terre Haute customers, $42.53; Northwest Indiana customers, $38.94; Muncie customers, $38.73; Winchester and Warsaw customers, $31.70; and West Lafayette customers, $27.90.

Since 2002, the IURC has authorized IAWC to implement five separate rate hikes:

•18.25 percent in November 2002.

•26.2 percent in June 2003.

•1.67 percent in November 2004.

•9.9 percent in October 2007

•19.72 percent in April 2010.

The OUCC is reviewing IAWC’s request and has not yet taken a position in this case. The OUCC is scheduled to file testimony on Oct. 5.

A group of IAWC’s industrial customers (including Praxair Inc. and U.S. Steel Corporation) and several municipal governments (Crown Point, Schererville, and West Lafayette) have formally intervened in this case through legal counsel. Testimony from intervening parties is expected to be filed on Oct. 5.

Consumers throughout IAWC’s service territories who are unable to attend the field hearing are encouraged to submit written comments to the OUCC. The OUCC accepts written comments by mail, fax and the Internet:

•Mail: Consumer Services Staff; Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South; Indianapolis, IN 46204

•Fax: (317) 232-5923.

•E-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

•OUCC website: www.IN.gov/OUCC

All written comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to IURC Cause No. 44022. Comments the OUCC receives by Sept. 28, will be filed with the IURC to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record.

For more information, including links to IAWC’s testimony in this case, please visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2654.htm. Tips for managing water bills and more information on the regulatory process can also be found on the OUCC site.

Only the rates and charges of Indiana American Water Company are at issue in this case. Indiana law does not give the IURC jurisdiction over municipal sewer and stormwater utility services.

 

 

Posted 8/9/2011