The Indiana Office
of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting the public to comment on
the Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s petition for an electric rate
increase, either through written comment or at a public field hearing.
* Send written
comments to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) by
Thursday, Jan. 31; and or
* Speak at the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s (IURC’s) public field hearing, at 6
p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Hammond High School auditorium, 5926 Calumet
Ave. Consumers are encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. for an overview of
field hearing procedures and the rate case process.
During the field
* Consumers will be
able to speak directly to the Commission, under oath and on the record,
regarding the case.
* Consumers will
also be able to submit written comments for the case record.
* Commissioners are
not allowed to answer questions. However, OUCC staff will be available
before, during, and after each hearing to address questions about the
The OUCC, the state
agency representing consumer interests in cases before the IURC, is using
its legal and technical resources to review NIPSCO’s request and is
scheduled to file testimony on Feb. 6. OUCC analysts are reviewing the
potential impact of the proposed increase, including its effects on
Proposed Rate Hike
In its testimony
and exhibits, NIPSCO states that its proposal would raise monthly electric
charges for an average residential customer--using 689 kilowatt hours
(kWh)--from $94.54 to $105.96. According to NIPSCO’s exhibits, a residential
customer using 1,000 kWh would see his or her monthly electric charges rise
from $130.96 to $146.07.
Within the rates,
NIPSCO’s monthly residential customer charge--which does not vary by use or
among customers--would rise from $14.00 to $17.00. Flat monthly charges for
small and medium commercial customers would rise from $24.00 to $30.00.
the case’s “key drivers” as realignment of depreciation rates for its
coal-fired generating facilities (including costs of planned generating
facility retirements), impacts from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of
2017, and the “near-term” shifting recovery of certain costs from industrial
customers to other customers, to address options industrial customers have
for generating more of their own electricity. In this case, NIPSCO is
proposing tariff changes that would allow its largest customers greater
access to wholesale power market pricing while retaining them as retail
base electric rates were approved in July 2016. However, billing amounts
have changed since then due to rate recovery mechanisms--or
“trackers”--which allow rate increases for specific items on an expedited
separate from base rates and are also subject to OUCC review and IURC
approval. All Indiana investor-owned electric utilities use trackers to
varying degrees. NIPSCO uses trackers to recover costs for generating fuel,
energy efficiency programs, environmental mandates, resource adequacy,
cybersecurity, transmission and distribution system upgrades, and regional
rates were adjusted downward in April 2018, to reflect federal income tax
reductions the utility received under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Natural gas rates
and charges are not at issue in this case. NIPSCO’s electric utility
provides service to more than 468,000 customers in 20 counties.
Consumers who wish
to submit written comments for the case record may do in the following ways:
* Via the OUCC’s