Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers will have the chance to comment on
the utility’s pending natural gas rate request, at an Indiana Utility
Regulatory Commission public field hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, in
the freshman lecture hall at Merrillville High School, 276 E. 68th Place.
encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. for an overview of field hearing
procedures and the rate case process.
At an IURC field
hearing consumers may speak directly to the commission, under oath and on
the record, regarding the rate case and may also submit written commens for
the case record. But commissioners will not answer questions.
Staff from the
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) will be on hand,
however, before, during, and after the hearing to answer questions about the
The OUCC is
scheduled to file testimony on Jan. 24 and is using its legal and technical
resources to review NIPSCO’s request in the meantime.
natural gas service to approximately 820,000 customers in 32 Indiana
counties. Its pending request would raise rates in two phases, with
increases taking effect in 2018 and 2019.
According to its
testimony and exhibits, NIPSCO’s request would raise an average monthly
natural gas bill for 69 therms by $10.35 if and when the proposed increase
is fully implemented. The impact on specific bills will vary based on usage.
A household using
147 therms per month and currently paying $93.47 per month would see its
bill increase to $105.93, the OUCC said. A household using 69 therms per
month and currently paying $49.44 would see it bill increase to $59.79.
request, the flat monthly residential customer charge would increase from
$11 to $19.50, the OUCC said, while the volumetric part of the base rate
would rise from 11.1 cents per therm to 17.7 cents per therm.
The request would
give NIPSCO’s gas utility a $143.5 million increase in overall annual
operating revenues, which is a raise of approximately 22.7 percent over
current natural gas revenues.
In its testimony
and exhibits, NIPSCO states that it’s seeking the new rates due to increases
in operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for numerous system upgrades.
The utility’s request includes more than $9.5 million in new program
expenses. It includes a significant increase in depreciation expenses in
addition to cost recovery for infrastructure projects in its Transmission,
Distribution, and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) plan, which
received IURC approval in 2014. By law, NIPSCO has been allowed to recover
80 percent of the plan’s capital projects and expenses through its TDSIC
tracker. The law required the utility to defer the remaining costs to its
next base rate case.
increase in this case would only apply to NIPSCO’s base distribution rates,
which currently comprise approximately 49 percent of a typical residential
natural gas customer’s monthly heating bill,” the OUCC noted. “Base
distribution rates cover ‘non-gas’ expenses such as capital improvements and
the costs of operations and maintenance.”
gas supply costs, which currently make up 51 percent of a typical customer’s
bill, are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the state’s Gas
Cost Adjustment (GCA) process. NIPSCO files its GCA requests, which require
OUCC review and IURC approval, every three months. The pending rate case
will not affect the GCA process.
natural gas base rates received IURC approval in 2010, though amounts on
customer bills have changed due to the utility’s TDSIC tracker and
fluctuations in wholesale natural gas costs,” the OUCC said.
Electric rates are
not at issue in this case.
Consumers who wish
to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC’s
Website at 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
* e-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
* Fax: (317)
The OUCC needs to
receive all written consumer comments no later than January 17, 2018 so that
it can consider them in preparing its testimony and file them with the IURC
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. 44988.” Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can
contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at (888) 441-2494.
A final order is
expected next summer. The OUCC is posting case updates online at