Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Public may comment March 11 in Hammond on NIPSCO rate hike

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A public field hearing on NIPSCO’s proposed electric rate increase will be held before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) at 6 p.m. Monday, March 11, at the Hammond High School auditorium, 5926 Calumet Ave. in Hammond.

Consumers are encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. for an overview of the hearing procedures and the rate case process.

At the hearing, consumers will be able to speak directly to the IURC, under oath and on the record, regarding the case, and will also be able to submit written comments for the case record. But members of the IURC are not allowed to answer questions. Staff from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), however, will be available before, during, and after the hearing, to answer questions about the process.

Proposed Rate Hike

NIPSCO is specifically seeking to 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.

NIPSCO has identified 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.

NIPSCO’s current base electric rates were approved in July 2016, the OUCC noted. However, billing amounts have changed since then due to rate recovery mechanisms--or “trackers”--which allow rate increases for specific items on an expedited basis. Rates have also changed due to federal income tax reductions the utility received under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The OUCC, for its part, has recommended against any increase of residential customer rates. “This includes keeping the electric utility’s flat, monthly residential customer charge at its current $14 level,” the OUCC said.

The OUCC has also recommended reductions to numerous line items in NIPSCO’s request and a reduction to the utility’s proposed return on equity.

“Recognizing new power supply options available to the company’s largest customers and facilitating cost savings to those customers, while shielding residential and commercial customer classes from covering those costs,” the OUCC said.

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.

Written Comments

Consumers who wish to submit written comments may do so in these ways:

* The OUCC’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm,

* Via email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

* Or by USPS: Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Mar. 13 so that it can file them with the IURC to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 45159.” Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at (888) 441-2494. Please do not include account numbers or other sensitive information.

 

 

Posted 2/26/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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