The Indiana Office
of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) has extended its deadline for public
comment on NIPCSO’s proposed gas rate hike, to Feb. 28, to allow parties
additional time to consider information related to the federal Tax Cuts &
Jobs Act, including potential implications for NIPSCO’s proposal.
In the meantime,
the OUCC continues “to use its legal and technical resources to review
NIPSCO’s request,” the agency said today.
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 testimony and
exhibits filed in September, NIPSCO’s request would do the following:
* Raise an average
monthly natural gas bill for 69 therms by $10.35 if and when the proposed
increase is fully implemented.
* Increase the
flat, monthly residential customer charge from $11.00 to $19.50.
* Raise the
volumetric part of the residential base rate from 11.1 cents per therm to
17.7 cents per therm.
* Provide the gas
utility with a $143.5 million increase in overall annual operating revenues,
which is a raise of approximately 22.7 percent over current natural gas
“In its testimony
and exhibits, NIPSCO states that it is seeking the new rates due to
increases in operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for numerous system
upgrades,” the OUCC said. “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 said. 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, the OUCC noted. 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. 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
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 Feb. 28. 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.