NIPSCO electric rate case:
State utility consumer advocate inviting public comments
Public meeting and hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 3 in Gary
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews Northern Indiana Public Service Company's (NIPSCO's) request for an increase in its electric base rates and charges.
The OUCC - the state agency representing ratepayer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - has not yet taken a position in this case but is scheduled to complete its review and file testimony on April 17.
Two public events regarding this case are scheduled for Tuesday, March 3 in Gary. Both events will take place at the Savanna Center Auditorium on the Indiana University - Northwest Campus at 3400 Broadway:
- At 4:30 p.m., Central Time, the OUCC will conduct an information meeting to discuss the regulatory process and describe public field hearing procedures.
- At 5:00 p.m., Central Time, the IURC will conduct a formal public field hearing to accept oral and written consumer comments regarding NIPSCO's electric rates. The comments will become part of the evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision. Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearing.
NIPSCO - a wholly owned subsidiary of NiSource, Inc. - provides electric utility service to approximately 457,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 20 northern Indiana counties. The utility's current electric base rates were approved in 1987.
Electric utility base rates primarily cover infrastructure, operating and maintenance costs. This case is separate from NIPSCO's quarterly Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC) process, which allows electric utilities to recover coal and other fuel costs on a dollar-for-dollar basis in addition to base rates. FAC cost recovery is subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.
In its testimony, NIPSCO states that the proposed base rate increase is due to growth in operating and maintenance expenses, numerous capital improvements to its transmission and distribution systems, and to the purchase of the Sugar Creek Generating Station in Vigo County.
According to its testimony and exhibits in this case, NIPSCO is seeking an additional $85.7 million in annual operating revenues through a base rate increase.
NIPSCO is also seeking IURC approval to establish a new rate recovery mechanism, or "tracker," for future ratemaking treatment of expenses and revenues related to regional transmission, purchased power and off-system sales.
Several additional parties have formally intervened in this case, including the LaPorte County Board of Commissioners, four municipal governments (Crown Point, Hammond, Munster, and Schererville), the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Beta Steel Corporation and a group of NIPSCO's industrial customers (including Cargill, Inc., Marathon Petroleum Company LLC, Mittal Steel USA - Indiana Harbor, Praxair, Inc. and United States Steel Corporation). The intervening parties are scheduled to file testimony April 17, the same date the OUCC's testimony is due.
In addition to the March 3 events in Gary, NIPSCO customers are encouraged to submit written comments regarding the rate case to the OUCC. Comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to IURC Cause No. 43526. Consumers can send comments to the OUCC by mail, fax or the Internet:
- Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
- Fax: (317) 232-5923
- E-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
- OUCC Website: www.IN.gov/OUCC
The OUCC needs to receive all written comments regarding the NIPSCO electric rate case no later than Friday, April 10. Additional information on this case, including links to the utility's testimony, is available on the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2457.htm. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
A guide to understanding electric rates, tips for managing energy bills, and additional information about the regulatory process are also available online at www.IN.gov/OUCC.
NIPSCO's natural gas rates, charges and service are not at issue in this case.
(IURC Cause No. 43526)
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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