State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Portage, says that she’s concerned that the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has become “all bark and no
bite” after the IURC granted a revenue increase on electric rates to the
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO).
Tallian sent a letter last week urging the Indiana Office of Utility
Consumer Counselor (OUCC) to appeal the commission’s August 25 decision to
allow for NIPSCO’s rate increase. NIPSCO provides residential, commercial
and industrial electric service to 20 northern Indiana counties.
The IURC itself estimated that the additional revenue would result in a
residential rate hike of 10 percent. However, NIPSCO’s actual Compliance
filing, released last week, shows residential rates increasing by 16.8
“We are in the middle of a recession,” Tallian said. “If ratepayers are hit
with a 16 percent increase, our struggling industries and commercial
businesses may be hit with a similar increase. Consumers need to know what
justifies the state regulators’ decision to allow this dramatic increase to
Tallian noted that a group of industries, including U.S. Steel, Praxair and
Arcelor Mittal, also filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the IURC. “It’s
clear that our big industrial employers aren’t happy with this order
either,” Tallian added. “So I have written to the OUCC urging the appeal of
In 2002, IURC recommended a 12 percent reduction in rates. After
negotiation, a 5.5 percent rate reduction was granted and has remained in
effect as a credit on ratepayer bills. With last week’s order, the credit
expires and customers will see at least an additional 11 percent increase.
“The Consumer Counselor issued a statement in 2009 against NIPSCO’s proposed
16 percent increase.” Tallian said. “As the voice of the consumer, that
should still be their position.”
Tallian also criticized the IURC under Governor Mitch Daniel’s
administration for giving NIPSCO “a total pass” on customer dissatisfaction
issues. “The company is top-heavy with very highly paid executives and
part-time board members,” she said. “This simply cannot be justified in view
of their ratings. NIPSCO needs to fill vacancies and fix infrastructure.”
“NIPSCO was ranked dead last out of 121 utilities in the country for
customer satisfaction by a J.D. Power & Associates study, “Tallian stated in
her letter to the OUCC. “Yet its rates are among the highest in the state.”
Tallian represents Indiana Senate District 4, which includes portions of
Porter County and Lake County, including Merrillville and Crown Point. She
is the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee.
She also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Energy and
Environment Affairs Committee, and the State Budget Committee.
For more information on Sen. Tallian, her legislative agenda or other State
Senate business visit www.in.gov/s4
or call (800) 382-9467.