Chesterton Tribune



Higher NIPSCO gas rates in effect October 1

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The Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) will increase its natural gas rates effective Monday, Oct. 1, per a settlement approved this week by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

The newly approved rates will be phased in over two years, and an average NIPSCO residential natural gas customer will see an overall increase of approximately $8 per month instead of $10 as NIPSCO originally proposed.

Terms of the settlement, according to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC):

¥It reduces NIPSCO’s original request for additional revenues by $48.9 million.

¥It limits the monthly residential customer charge increase to $3. NIPSCO first proposed raising the current $11 charge to $19.50, whereas the settlement sets the charge at $14.

¥It resolves all issues regarding tax relief following the federal Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, including crediting customers for 2018 taxes collected at the former 35 percent rate.

¥It authorizes a 9.85 percent returned on equity (ROE), lower than 10.7 percent ROE originally proposed by NIPSCO.

¥It phases in the new rates over the next two years.

“This agreement will ensure that the utility will have the revenues needed to complete numerous upgrades throughout its gas transmission and distribution system, while mitigating the rate impact as much as possible,” Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine said. “The OUCC is committed to addressing aging infrastructure, reliability, and safety, as they will continue to be critical issues for utilities and their customers throughout the nation.”

Meanwhile, NIPSCO said, the change for individual commercial and industrial customers will vary depending on usage patterns, but on average rates for overall commercial and smaller industrial customers will increase less than originally proposed.

“The decision follows an extensive regulatory review and public input process and is based on a collaborative agreement reached earlier in the year with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), industrial customers, and the NIPSCO Gas Supplier Group,” NIPSCO said

“Maintaining affordable energy costs for customers is essential,” NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris said. “This balanced outcome allows us to continue to improve service and provides a platform for continued investments in public safety and other programs to better serve customers now and into the future.”

“It has been more than 25 years since NIPSCO’s base natural gas rates have increased, and in 2010, a regulatory review led to a slight decrease,” NIPSCO said. “Since that time, NIPSCO has repeatedly been the lowest-cost provider in Indiana--and among the lowest-cost providers in the nation--while improving service, reliability, and safety to customers. NIPSCO anticipates that, with the newly approved rates, it will remain among the lowest-cost providers.”

The IURC ruling does not affect NIPSCO electric rates.




Posted 9/20/2018




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