The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews Southern Monroe Water Corporation's request to increase its rates and charges.
The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - is reviewing the utility's request and has not yet taken a position in this case. Currently, the OUCC anticipates completing its review and filing its report with the Commission on or before January 26, 2011.
The utility's pending proposal would increase a monthly residential water bill for 5,000 gallons from $23.98 to $28.25. According to its filing, the utility is seeking the base rate changes due to increases in operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Current base rates for Southern Monroe Water Corporation, a not-for-profit utility serving approximately 3,300 customers in Monroe County, were approved in 1980 but have been periodically adjusted due to increases in wholesale water costs. In addition to the pending base rate request, the utility is seeking an increase in its wholesale water tracking mechanism which allows the utility to recover wholesale costs on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This adjustment, as proposed, would add $5.45 to a monthly bill for 5,000 gallons.
Southern Monroe Water is seeking the rate increase through 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 wish to submit written comments in this case may do so via 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
Written comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43952-U." The OUCC needs to receive consumer comments by January 21, 2011 to ensure that they are included in the case record.
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494. For additional information on this case, including a copy of the utility's filing, please visit the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2637.htm.
The OUCC's Website also offers a number of utility consumer publications at no charge, including tips for saving water and energy.
(IURC Cause No. 43952-U)
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.