The following statement may be attributed to Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Susan L. Macey, regarding the final rule issued today by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) in Rulemaking No. 05-03:
"While respecting the Commission's decision, we are disappointed in today's final rule. We had hoped that this proceeding would lead to even lower maximum limits for natural gas utility deposits, especially as consumers face very high heating bills this winter. I commend my staff at the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) for developing the creative recommendations that our office put forward in this proceeding; we continue to view our recommendations as a reasonable means of addressing the interests of both customers and utilities. We are pleased the Commission shared our view that a utility data reporting requirement will provide all stakeholders with a meaningful opportunity to more fully develop long-term solutions to address customer debt, disconnection and reconnection issues.
"I also commend the consumers and organizations that took time to either file written comments or speak at the October public hearing in this proceeding. We need to hear from the public on utility issues and are always willing to listen to consumer input and share it with the Commission.
"As cold weather continues to set in, we call on utilities throughout Indiana to make every effort to keep their customers connected this winter and help those who need assistance in getting connected. We remind consumers that the Daniels administration has increased this year's eligibility level for the Energy Assistance Program to 150 percent of the poverty level. We also remind consumers that Commission rules prohibit gas and electric utilities from shutting off heating customers who are receiving Energy Assistance funds, or who qualify and have applied for those funds, between Dec. 1 and Mar. 15."
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents the interests of all utility consumers and the public in matters related to the provision of utility services. The agency is active in proceedings before regulatory and legal bodies, and committed to giving consumers a voice in the creation of utility service policy. Residential, commercial and industrial customers with questions or concerns regarding utility service can contact the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 or online at www.IN.gov/OUCC.
(IURC Rulemaking No. 05-03)