Chesterton Tribune

 

 

OUCC and IAWC in water rate hike settlement deal

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The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Indiana American Water Company, (IAWC), and all additional parties in the utility’s pending rate case have reached a comprehensive settlement agreement.

That agreement was filed Monday with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), which may accept, deny, or modify any agreement before it, OUCC said in a statement released today.

“Our legal staff and technical analysts have negotiated with IAWC and all parties to this case to achieve a fair resolution for the utility’s customers,” Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine said. “Between new evidence presented during the case and the OUCC’s strong support for utility investments in aging, necessary infrastructure, we have come to a mutual resolution. It provides a reasonable balance between investments needed for safe, dependable water and fair rates to cover the costs.”

The terms of the agreement:

--An overall revenue increase of $17.5 million annually, to be implemented in two phases. By comparison, the utility had requested $38.8 million.

--A 9.8 percent authorized return on equity, compared to the 10.8 percent IAWC requested.

--Resolution of all issues pertaining to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, and the proper sharing of federal tax relief with customers.

Additional settling parties include the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Indiana Community Action Association, industrial customers (Arcelor Mittal USA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Praxair, Inc.), municipal governments (Crown Point, Schererville, and Whiteland), and Sullivan-Vigo Water Corporation.

It’s not clear from the OUCC statement how the agreement would actually affect consumers’ rates. IAWC had originally sought a two-phase rate increase, under which residential customers using 5,000 gallons per month would have seen a rise in their monthly bill from $43.70 to $46.81 in July 2019; and then a second increase to $50.34 in July 2020. That total hike--of about 16 percent--would have generated additional annual revenues of $38.8 million for IAWC.

Under the settlement, however, IAWC has agreed to additional annual revenues of less than half that amount: $17.6 million.

An IURC settlement hearing is scheduled for April 11, 2019, with an order expected in the following weeks.

Updates on this case are being posted on the OUCC’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2654.htmI

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.

 

Posted 3/19/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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