Two public events regarding East Lawrence Water Authority's request for an increase in its rates and charges are scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at Bedford Middle School, 1501 N Street, Bedford, Indiana:
- At 5:30 p.m., the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) will conduct an information meeting to describe public field hearing procedures and to discuss the utility regulatory process.
- At 6:00 p.m., the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will conduct a formal public field hearing to accept oral and written consumer comments regarding the rate case. The comments will become part of the evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision in the case. Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearing.
These events had originally been scheduled for April 6.
The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the IURC - has not yet taken a position on the utility's request but currently anticipates completing its review and filing its report in this case on or before June 17, 2009.
Current rates for East Lawrence Water Authority - a non-profit utility with approximately 3,200 customers in portions of Lawrence, Washington and Jackson Counties - were approved in 2003. The utility's pending proposal, if approved, would increase the monthly residential water bill for a customer using 5,000 gallons from $38.45 to $44.45.
According to its filing with the IURC, the utility is seeking the additional revenues due to increases in wholesale water costs, higher operating and maintenance expenses, and infrastructure improvements including storage tank painting and cleaning, as well as new and improved transmission and distribution mains.
East Lawrence Water Authority 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.
Consumers who are unable to attend the May 27 events may submit written comments to the OUCC in advance. Comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43630-U," and can be submitted 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
For additional information on this case, including a copy of the utility's filing, visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2547.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. 43630-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.