For immediate release: May 12, 2009
Posted by: [OUCC]
Contact: Anthony Swinger
Phone: (317) 233-2747

Westfield natural gas base 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 Westfield Gas Corporation - doing business as Citizens Gas of Westfield - for an increase in its natural gas base 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 testimony on Friday, May 29. 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.

Rates and charges for Citizens Gas customers in Marion County are not at issue in this case.

The Citizens Gas of Westfield subsidiary serves approximately 3,000 customers in Hamilton County. In its testimony before the IURC, the utility states that it is seeking $1.011 million in new annual revenues due to capital and infrastructure improvements along with increases in operating and maintenance expenses. Westfield's current natural gas base rates were approved in 1997; Citizens Energy Group acquired the Westfield utility's assets in 2004.

The proposed increase in this case would only apply to the utility's base distribution rate, which comprises approximately 25 to 30 percent of a typical residential natural gas customer's monthly heating bill. Base distribution rates cover "non-gas" costs such as operating and maintenance expenses, and capital and infrastructure improvements.

Wholesale natural gas supply costs, which make up between 70 and 75 percent of a typical customer's bill, are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the state's Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA) process. The utility's GCA process, which includes an OUCC review and requires IURC approval, will not be affected by this case.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Wednesday, May 27. Comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43624," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:

Additional information on this case, including the utility's testimony, is available on the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2479.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 natural gas prices and tips for managing energy bills are among the free publications the OUCC offers. All OUCC publications are available on the agency's Website or by calling the agency toll-free.

 

(IURC Cause No. 43624)

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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