The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is recommending that less than half of Indiana American Water Company's proposed rate increase be approved. The OUCC - the state agency representing ratepayer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - filed testimony this week.
When initiating this case earlier this year, IAWC requested $46.8 million in new annual operating revenues, which would amount to an overall increase of 28.8 percent over current revenues. The OUCC's recommendations would limit the utility's increase to $22.6 million or 14 percent over current revenues.
"Our staff has worked diligently and thoroughly in reviewing Indiana American Water's request since early May," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. "We do not believe the full rate increase requested by Indiana American Water is justified. However, we do recognize the fact that IAWC has made numerous efforts to modernize its infrastructure and improve the safety and reliability of its systems throughout the state."
Based on its review, the OUCC is recommending reductions in IAWC's requested increases for many of its proposed operating expenses as well as cost allocations. The OUCC's testimony focuses on the utility's proposed total revenue requirement and does not focus on potential impacts by customer service territory at this time.
"We recognize that the current economic situation may make it appropriate to delay certain capital improvements," said Stippler. "However, utilities must maintain and improve their infrastructure in a timely manner so to not put the safety and reliability of their distribution systems at risk. The OUCC's recommendations in this case offer a reasoned approach that advocates for the consumer, while acknowledging IAWC's responsibility to provide safe, reliable service."
The IURC has conducted public field hearings in this case in Gary, Jeffersonville and Muncie, while the OUCC has submitted written consumer comments received over the last 6 months to the IURC for inclusion in the case's evidentiary record.
A technical evidentiary hearing - at which IAWC will be allowed to cross examine witnesses of the OUCC and other parties in this case - is currently scheduled to begin on December 15, 2009 in Indianapolis.
(IURC Cause No. 43680)
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC's mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.