Two public events will be held on Monday, January 8 regarding Vectren Energy Delivery's requested electric and natural gas base rate increases for its southwestern Indiana customers. Both events will be held in Meeting Rooms A, B, D and E of The Centre, 715 Locust St., Evansville, Indiana:
- From 5:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., local time, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) will conduct an information meeting. During the half-hour meeting, OUCC staff will discuss the regulatory process and describe public field hearing procedures.
- At 6:00 p.m., local time - immediately following the OUCC information meeting - the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will conduct a formal public field hearing to accept oral and written consumer testimony regarding the proposals. The comments will become part of the evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decisions in these cases. Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearing.
In IURC Cause No. 43111, Vectren is seeking to increase its annual base electric rates by approximately $135.5 million. This total includes $45.5 million in Demand Side Management, purchased power and environmental compliance costs that are already collected through customer bills via separate regulatory processes that require state-level review.
Vectren's current base electric rates were approved in 1995; the utility provides electricity to customers in six counties (Vanderburgh, Gibson, Pike, Posey, Spencer and Warrick). This case would not affect Vectren's quarterly Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC) process, which allows the utility to recover coal and other fuel costs on a quarterly basis, in addition to base rates, subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.
In IURC Cause No. 43112, Vectren is seeking a $10.4 million annual revenue increase through its natural gas distribution rates for customers in its "South territory." This area, formerly served by Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. (SIGECO), covers all or portions of 10 southwestern Indiana counties (Vanderburgh, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Martin, Pike, Posey, Spencer and Warrick).
Vectren South's current natural gas base rates were approved in 2004, with base distribution rates typically comprising between 25 and 30 percent of a typical residential customer's monthly winter heating bill. Wholesale commodity costs, which make up most of a typical natural gas customer's bill, are recovered through the state's Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA) process on a quarterly basis. Vectren's GCA process, which requires OUCC review and IURC approval, would not be affected by this case.
Rates and charges for customers in the Vectren North service territory - formerly served by Indiana Gas Co. and covering counties in central, south-central and southeastern Indiana - are not at issue in these cases.
The utility indicates in testimony that it is seeking the base rate increases to pay for numerous capital improvements along with increases in operating and maintenance costs.
The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in IURC proceedings - continues to review Vectren's proposals and has not yet taken a position in these cases. The OUCC's testimony is currently due on January 30 in the gas case and February 26 in the electric rate case.
Consumers who are unable to attend the January 8 events are encouraged to submit written comments to the OUCC in advance. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to the appropriate IURC cause number (Electric - 43111; Gas - 43112). Consumers can send comments to the OUCC by mail, fax or the Internet:
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494. In addition, the OUCC offers a number of free consumer publications on utility service issues including tips for providing effective comments on pending cases, guides to understanding electric and natural gas rates, and tips for saving money on utility bills. All OUCC publications are available by visiting the agency's Website (www.IN.gov/OUCC) or calling the agency toll-free.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents utility consumer interests in state and federal regulatory proceedings. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.
(IURC Cause Nos. 43111, 43112)