NIF&L rate case: Consumer comments invited
IURC field hearing scheduled for November 9 in Auburn
OUCC accepting written consumer comments through January 21
Northern Indiana Fuel & Light Co. (NIF&L) customers are encouraged to comment on the utility's pending request for changes to its natural gas base rates and rate structure.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) - the state agency representing consumer interests in all cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - is accepting written consumer comments for the case record through January 21, 2011.
The OUCC also encourages consumers to attend the IURC public field hearing scheduled for Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn (1600 S. Wayne St.). The field hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m.
- Sworn oral and written comments regarding the NIF&L rate case will be accepted during the field hearing.
- Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight, and will become part of the official evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision.
- Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearings. (However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available before, during and after the hearing.)
An OUCC informational meeting on the regulatory process and public field hearing procedures will be held at 5:00 p.m., immediately preceding the field hearing.
Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case may send them to the OUCC 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
All written comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to IURC Cause No. 43943. The OUCC will file all written comments it receives by the close of business on January 21, 2011 with the IURC for inclusion in the case's official record.
The OUCC is reviewing NIF&L's rate request and is scheduled to file testimony on January 28, 2011.
The proposed increase in this case would apply to NIF&L'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.
Residential base distribution rates for NIF&L, which received IURC approval in 1992, include a fixed, monthly charge of $7.50 which would rise to $11.00 under the utility's pending proposal, along with volumetric charges that vary monthly based on usage. In its testimony, NIF&L estimates that a residential customer's monthly bills would increase by an average of $6.38 per month, assuming that the customer uses 765 therms over a one-year period.
According to its case-in-chief, NIF&L is seeking an overall annual revenue increase of approximately $3.18 million.
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. NIF&L files its GCA requests, which require OUCC review and IURC approval, every three months. The GCA process will not be affected by this case.
In a separate proceeding, the IURC is considering the proposed merger of NIF&L and Kokomo Gas and Fuel Co. into Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO). All three utilities are wholly owned subsidiaries of NiSource, Inc., based in Merrillville, Ind. The OUCC's testimony in the merger case (IURC Cause No. 43941) is currently due on December 16, 2010.
For more information on these cases, including links to testimony and exhibits, please visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2633.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.
NIF&L provides natural gas utility service to more than 40,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in five northeastern Indiana counties.
(IURC Cause No. 43943)
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.