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Public input meetings on proposed 17 percent water rate hike scheduled

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Duneland customers of Indiana-American Water Company (IAWC)--whose average bills could increase by more than 17 percent per month under a rate case pending before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC)--are being urged to comment at a public field meeting at 6 p.m. April 10, in the Gary Common Council Chambers, 401 Broadway.

An earlier public field meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the Franklin Community High School Performing Arts Center, 2600 Cumberland Drive.

The IURC will accept both sworn oral and written comments at the field hearings and such will become part of the case’s official evidentiary record, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) said.

Although commissioners are not allowed to answer questions at the field hearings, OUCC and IURC staff will be on hand before, during, and after each hearing.

Each hearing will also be preceded, at 5:30 p.m. local time, by an information session conducted by the OUCC on the regulatory process.

The Petition

IAWC, a subsidiary of Voorheese, N.J.-based American Water Inc., provides water service to 290,000 customers throughout Indiana. In its petition IAWC is seeking to increase its annual operating revenues by $19.6 million.

“Proposed infrastructure improvements in IAWC’s testimony include replacement of aging mains, treatment plant projects, storage tank renovation, and other projects,” the OUCC said.

Although most of IAWC’s residential customers would see a 6.4-percent increase in the average monthly bill--from $37.35 to $39.75--the company’s Northwest Indiana customers would see a much higher spike: 17.2 percent, from $33.90 to $39.74.

Because IAWC’s Northwest Indiana customers are billed every two months, under this petition the average bimonthly bill would increase from $67.81 to $79.48.

These numbers do not include fire protection surcharges, the OUCC said.

“IAWC’s current base rates were approved in June 2012,” the OUCC said. “However, rates have since increased twice through the utility’s Distribution System Infrastructure Charge (DSIC), a rate adjustment mechanism (or tracker) which allows investor-owned water utilities to increase rates to pay for aging infrastructure subject to OUCC review and IURC approval. IAWC’s most recent DSIC increases were approved in December 2012 and December 2013.”

The OUCC, which represents consumer interests in cases before the IURC, is still reviewing IAWC’s petition and has not yet taken a position in the case. It is scheduled to file testimony with the IURC on May 2.

The City of Crown Point, the Town of Schererville, Sullivan-Vigo Rural Water Corporation, and a group of industrial customers (including U.S. Steel, Praxair Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, and Haynes International Inc.) have intervened in this case and are also scheduled to file testimony on May 2.

More information on this case, including the utility’s testimony, is available online at www.in.gov/oucc/2654.htm

Submitting Comments

Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case 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) 232-5923

Written comments received by the OUCC receives by April 25 will be filed with the IURC and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44450.”

Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at (888) 441-2494.

 

Posted 3/18/2014