UPDATE: An IURC final order in this case was issued on Mar. 7, 2007.
OUCC news release, issued Sept. 1, 2006
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews the request of Battle Ground Conservancy District for an increase in its water 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 utility's request but is currently scheduled to complete its review and file its written report in the case on Monday, October 23. 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, e-mail or fax.
Battle Ground Conservancy District - which serves 655 customers in and near the town of Battle Ground - is seeking its first base rate increase since the district was formed in 1986. For an average residential customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month, the utility's proposal would increase the monthly bill from $13.12 to $26.30.
In its filing before the Commission, the utility indicates it is seeking the changes to cover higher operating and maintenance costs and to pay for capital improvements - including hydrant and meter replacements, new machinery and equipment, and a line relocation project along State Road 43.
Battle Ground Conservancy District 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).
"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 Reference Department of the Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South Street, Lafayette, Indiana.
The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Friday, October 20. Comments should include the consumer's name and address - along with a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43088-U" - and can be sent by mail, fax or the Internet:
- Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
100 N. Senate Ave., Room N501
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2215
- 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.
All written comments received before the OUCC's filing deadline will be reviewed by agency staff who are reviewing the utility's proposal from technical and legal perspectives. In addition, the OUCC offers a wide range of free publications on utility service issues - including a guide to the regulatory process and tips that can help consumers save money on water and energy bills. All OUCC publications are available on the agency's Website or by calling the agency toll-free.
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.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents utility consumer interests in state and federal regulatory proceedings. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.
(IURC Cause No. 43088-U)