For immediate release: Oct 01, 2008
Posted by: [OUCC]
Contact: Anthony Swinger
Phone: (317) 233-2747

Fortville Municipal Water rate case: State utility consumer advocate accepting public comments

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews the Fortville Municipal Water Utility's request for an increase in its 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 town's request but currently anticipates completing its review and filing its report in this case on Wednesday, November 5. 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.

Fortville's current municipal water rates were approved in 1998. The town's pending proposal, if approved, would increase the monthly residential water bill for a customer who lives within the town limits and uses 5,000 gallons from $17.90 to $35.21. A customer with the same usage who resides outside the town limits would see his or her bill monthly increase from $26.82 to $52.76.

According to the utility's filing with the IURC, the additional revenues would cover the costs of infrastructure improvements along with increases in operating and maintenance expenses. Projects specifically listed in the town's report include a planned 500,000 gallon water tower, refurbishment of the utility's existing 300,000 gallon storage tank, water main extensions and replacements, new meters and fire hydrants, and refurbishment of well pumping equipment.

The OUCC has filed a motion in this case requesting that a public field hearing be held in Fortville; the motion is pending before the IURC.

The town 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.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Friday, October 31. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43551-U," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:

For additional information on this case, including a copy of the town's filing, visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/3443.htm. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

More 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.

 

(IURC Cause No. 43551-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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