Business and Economics

May 1 Deadline for Utility Comments

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Heating and cooling costs along with overall utility rates for Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or NIPSCO, are getting the attention of Indiana’s Utility Regulatory Commission … and the public. The Commission held a public hearing this month about possible rate changes. A prospective rate increase could help NIPSCO pay for federally-mandated environmental upgrades to its power plants. NIPSCO says the proposed increase would cause electric customers to pay on average $1.07 more per month.

NIPSCO’s External Communications Specialist Kathleen Szot says, “It’s going reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent; it’s really making a good step toward improving local air quality.”

Indiana’s Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is taking written public comments until May 1st about the proposed rate increase.

From the OUCC:
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is encouraging Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers to comment on the utility’s pending environmental compliance construction case.

Consumers may:
1. Speak at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) public field hearing on Monday, April 22, 2013, or
2. Send written comments to the OUCC anytime between now and the close of business on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

NIPSCO is asking the IURC to approve its proposed MATS Compliance Plan, which would include the construction, installation and operation of new pollution control equipment at NIPSCO’s Bailly, Michigan City and Schahfer generating stations. The equipment would be installed on seven generating units at the three facilities, and would reduce mercury and particulate matter emissions.

In its testimony, the utility states that the project is necessary for compliance with federal regulations, specifically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule.
NIPSCO is also seeking IURC approval to recover the project’s costs through rates, with rate adjustments to be made every six months. The utility currently estimates the project’s construction costs – not including financing – at approximately $59.2 million.

In its testimony, NIPSCO states that it expects the project to add approximately $1.07 to the monthly electric bill for an average residential customer using 688 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2017.

NIPSCO provides electric utility service to approximately 457,000 customers throughout northern Indiana. The outcome of this case will only affect the utility’s electric rates, and will not affect NIPSCO’s natural gas rates and charges.
The OUCC – which represents consumer interests in cases before the IURC – is still evaluating this case and is scheduled to file testimony on May 7, 2013. Additional parties that have intervened in this case – including the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) and the NIPSCO Industrial Group – are also scheduled to file testimony on May 7.
More information on this case is available online at www.in.gov/oucc/2740.htm.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
• Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
• email: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
• Fax: (317) 232-5923

Written comments the OUCC receives by May 1 will be filed with the Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44311.”
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
(IURC Cause No. 44311)

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.

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