Chesterton Tribune



OUCC seeks public input on NIPSCO gas rate hike

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Customers of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) who wish to comment on NIPSCO’s pending natural gas rate request will have several opportunities to do so.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), is currently reviewing NIPSCO’s request and is scheduled to file testimony on Jan. 24.

Meanwhile, the OUCC is inviting written comments from NIPSCO’s residential, commercial, and industrial gas customers through Jan. 17, and will hold a public field hearing in Lake County on a date and at a location yet to be determined.

According to testimony and exhibits, NIPSCO’s request would raise an average monthly residential natural gas bill for 69 therms by $10.35 if and when the proposed increase is fully implemented, although the impact on specific bills will vary based on usage.

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.

NIPSCO has said 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.

The proposed 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. Base distribution rates cover “non-gas” expenses such as capital improvements and the costs of operations and maintenance.

Wholesale natural 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.

NIPSCO’s current 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 Website at 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:

* Fax: (317) 232-5923.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Jan. 17. 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.

Several additional parties have intervened in this case, including the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Direct Energy Business Marketing LLC, Arcelor Mittal USA, Arconic Inc., BP Products North America Inc., Cargill Inc., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors LLC, NLMK Indiana, Praxair Inc., U.S. Steel Corporation, and USG Corporation.

A final order is expected next summer. The OUCC is posting case updates online at


Posted 11/27/2017





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