Municipal Utilities Fight Anti-Service Expansion Bill
January 28, 2015 — Eric Berman, Network Indiana — Indiana cities and towns which operate their own electric utility are trying to kill a bill which would limit their ability to expand service.
Greenfield Senator Michael Crider‘s (R) bill would end the practice of automatically extending municipal power territories when the city annexes adjacent land. The city would instead have to work out a deal with rival power companies.
Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel says his city did reach a settlement with an annexation 20 years ago, and says it creates problems. He says city residents still on R-E-M-C power have complained they believe they‘d have lower rates with the city, and would rather be able to hold elected officials accountable for rate hikes.
Both sides argue the other is boxing them in by scooping up unincorporated territory. Crider says investor-owned utilities and R-E-M-C‘s have charged cities are cherry-picking the areas poised for growth.
With both sides seeing value in those service areas, Crider says government shouldn‘t be able to play a trump card through annexation.
About seven-percent of Hoosiers in about 70 cities and towns are on municipal power.