UPDATE: The IURC issued a final order in this case on Jan. 16, 2008. A PDF copy of the 5-page order is available by clicking here.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews the request of South Eastern Indiana Natural Gas Co., Inc. for an increase in its natural gas base rates and charges.
The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - has not yet taken a position on the utility's request but currently anticipates completing its review and filing its report in this case on Tuesday, October 9. Consumers who wish to provide written comments on the case in the meantime may submit them to the OUCC's consumer services staff via mail, e-mail or fax.
South Eastern Indiana Natural Gas Co. - a privately-owned utility serving nearly 2,000 customers in Ripley and Dearborn Counties (including the communities of Dillsboro, Milan, Moores Hill, and Versailles) - is requesting a 10.6 percent increase in its base rate revenues. According to its filing in this case, the utility is seeking the rate changes due to increases in operating and maintenance costs. Current base rates for South Eastern Natural Gas were approved in 1997.
The proposed rate increase in this case would only apply to the utility's base distribution rate, which comprises approximately 25 to 30 percent of a typical residential natural gas customer's monthly heating bill. Base distribution rates cover "non-gas" costs such as operating and maintenance costs, and capital improvements.
Wholesale natural gas supply costs, which make up between 70 and 75 percent of a typical customer's bill, are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the state's Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA) process. South Eastern's GCA process, which requires OUCC review and IURC approval every three months, will not be affected by this case.
South Eastern has applied for the rate increase using the state's Small Utility Filing Procedure, which is available to utilities with fewer than 5,000 customers and is designed to reduce the time and expense involved with regulatory filings. Savings are gained by allowing utility staff to use standardized forms and the utility's resulting need for less assistance from rate consultants or attorneys.
The standard for OUCC and IURC reviews on small utility filings is the same that applies to traditional utility filings. The OUCC conducts its review on behalf of consumers, while the IURC's review is conducted on behalf of the public interest (a balancing of utility and customer interests). A settlement agreement is possible in any legal proceeding; such an agreement would require IURC approval. The OUCC attempts to reach a fair agreement for ratepayers in each IURC case.
This utility's report in this case is available for review on the IURC Website (www.in.gov/iurc), by visiting http://www.in.gov/iurc/portal/Tab.aspx?tabid=28&dn=SEARCHDOCKETEDCASE and entering docket number 43318.
The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Thursday, October 4. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43318-U," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:
- Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
- Fax: (317) 232-5923
- E-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
- OUCC Website: www.IN.gov/OUCC
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
Additional information on the regulatory process and other utility consumer topics - including a guide to understanding natural gas prices and tips for saving money on energy bills - is available on the OUCC Website (www.IN.gov/OUCC) or by calling the agency toll-free.
(IURC Cause No. 43118-U)
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents residential and business consumer interests in cases before state and federal utility regulatory commissions. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.
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