NIPSCO natural gas rate case: Consumer comments invited
Public meetings and hearings scheduled for July 8 in Gary & July 26 in Fort Wayne
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers are invited to comment on the utility's pending request for changes to its natural gas base rates and rate structure.
Two events regarding this case are scheduled for Thursday, July 8, 2010 in Gary, Indiana. Both events will be held at the Genesis Convention Center (1 Genesis Center Plaza):
- At 5:00 p.m., Central Time, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) will conduct an information meeting to discuss the regulatory process and describe public field hearing procedures.
- At 5:30 p.m., Central Time, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will conduct a formal public field hearing to accept oral and written consumer comments regarding NIPSCO's natural gas rates.
- Oral and written comments submitted at the field hearing will become part of the official evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision.
- Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight.
- Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearing. (However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available throughout the evening.)
A second IURC public field hearing and OUCC information meeting in this case are scheduled for Monday, July 26, 2010 at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne. The July 26 field hearing in Fort Wayne will begin at 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, preceded by the OUCC meeting at 5:30 p.m.
Consumers are also invited to submit written comments to the OUCC in this case. The OUCC will file all written comments it receives by August 9, 2010 with the IURC for inclusion in the case's official record.
All written comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to IURC Cause No. 43894. They may be submitted by mail, fax or e-mail, or through the OUCC's Website:
- Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Fax: (317) 232-5923
Under NIPSCO's pending request, residential natural gas bills would include a new fixed, monthly $20 charge to pay for operating, maintenance and infrastructure costs.
- In its testimony, NIPSCO is requesting the new rate structure to recover "non-gas" costs rather than recovering them based on customer usage, which has declined over the last two decades.
- NIPSCO is seeking a 6.9 percent increase in the total annual natural gas operating revenues that it collects from residential customers.
- The proposed increase in this case would apply only to NIPSCO's base distribution rates, which comprise approximately 25 to 30 percent of a typical residential natural gas customer's monthly heating bill. Base distribution rates cover "non-gas" expenses such as capital improvements and the costs of operations and maintenance.
- NIPSCO's current natural gas base rates received IURC approval in 1988.
- 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. NIPSCO files its GCA requests, which require OUCC review and IURC approval, every three months. The GCA process will not be affected by this case.
The OUCC, the state agency representing the interests of all consumers in IURC cases, is reviewing NIPSCO's request and has not yet taken a position in this case. The OUCC is currently scheduled to file testimony on August 16, 2010.
A number of additional parties - including the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, industrial customers, and gas supply marketers that participate in the NIPSCO Choice program - have formally intervened in this case through legal counsel. Testimony from intervening parties is also due on August 16, 2010.
For more information on this case, including links to NIPSCO's testimony and exhibits, please visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2621.htm. The OUCC Website also offers a guide to state utility regulatory proceedings, tips for reducing energy bills, a guide to understanding natural gas prices, and more.
NIPSCO provides natural gas utility service to more than 712,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 28 northern Indiana counties. NIPSCO's electric rates, charges and service are not at issue in this case.
(IURC Cause No. 43894)
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.
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