For immediate release: Nov 21, 2008
Posted by: [OUCC]
Contact: Anthony Swinger
Phone: (317) 233-2747

Doe Creek Sewer Utility 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 request of Doe Creek Sewer Utility, Inc. 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 utility's request but is currently scheduled to complete its review and file its report in this case on Thursday, December 11. 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.

Doe Creek Sewer Utility is a privately owned entity based in Cumberland with more than 380 customers in western Hancock County; its current sewer rates were approved in 1995. The utility's pending proposal, if approved, would increase its flat monthly residential rate from $39.50 to $53.31. According to the utility's filing with the IURC, the additional revenues would cover increases in operating and maintenance costs.

In addition, Doe Creek is seeking approval to implement a system development charge; this new, one-time charge of $2,500 would apply to a property connecting to the sewer system for the first time. The charge would help cover the costs of expanding infrastructure to the property and would not apply to existing customers.

The utility 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, December 5. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43530-U," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:

For additional information on this case, including a copy of the utility's filing, visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/3439.htm. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

For more information on the regulatory process and other utility consumer topics - including tips for saving money on water and energy bills - please visit the OUCC Website or contact the agency toll-free.

 

(IURC Cause No. 43530-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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