For immediate release: Nov 08, 2006
Posted by: [OUCC]
Contact: Anthony Swinger
Phone: 1-888-441-2494

Fillmore water rate case: State utility consumer advocate inviting comments

UPDATE: An IURC final order in this case was issued on Feb. 28, 2007.

OUCC news release, issued Nov. 8, 2006:

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is inviting public comments as it reviews the Fillmore Municipal Water Utility's request for an increase in its rates and charges.

The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in all cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - has not yet taken a position on the town's request but currently anticipates completing its review and filing its written report in the case on Wednesday, December 13. Consumers who wish to provide written comments on the proposal in the meantime may submit them to the OUCC's consumer services staff via mail, fax or e-mail.

Fillmore's municipal water utility - which serves more than 200 customers in Putnam County - is seeking its first base rate increase since 1998. For an average residential customer who uses 5,000 gallons per month, the town's proposal would increase the monthly water bill from $34.25 to $42.30. The town is seeking the changes to cover increased operating and maintenance costs, and also to pay for capital improvements including fire hydrant and meter replacements.

Fillmore has applied for the rate increase using the state's Small Utility Filing Procedure. This procedure 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 consumers in each IURC case.

"Written consumer comments are important to our review process," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Susan L. Macey, noting that Indiana law designates the OUCC as a formal party to all IURC cases. "While our legal and technical case teams closely review every proposal before the IURC, consumer comments frequently help us in understanding issues at the local level."

Interested consumers can review a copy of the utility's filing at the Putnam County Public Library, 103 E. Poplar Street, in Greencastle.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Tuesday, December 12. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43118-U," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:

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 tips for saving money on water and energy bills - is available on the OUCC Website or by calling the agency toll-free.

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.

(IURC Cause No. 43118-U)

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