Business and Economics

NIPSCO Gas Customers’s Invited About $713-million Project

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November 7, 2013 – NIPSCO plans to use a new customer gas rate adjustment mechanism outlined in a new law, and triggering a State request for customer’s comments.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC ) is inviting NIPSCO customers to comment about the company’s $713-million gas line infrastructure plan.  The OUCC is inviting written comments from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers as the utility plans to request customer gas rate adjustments to offset those costs for new natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system improvements.

The OUCC is the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).  OUCC is reviewing the NIPSCO’s new rate adjustment mechanism, expecting to complete its review and to file testimony on January 10, 2014.

The State says NIPSCO has filed its request invoking a new Indiana law approved this year, Senate Enrolled Act 560, which allows an investor-owned electric or natural gas utility to seek IURC approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan.

The OUCC says that if IURN approves the plan, then the utility can adjust rates every 6 months, subject to IURC and OUCC review, to recover project costs as they are incurred as long as they don’t exceed 2% of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.   The law also requires that 20% of the approved project’s costs be deferred to the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the seven-year period.

OUCC invites consumers written comments via its website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:

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

The OUCC says written comments its receives by January 3, 2014 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. 44403.”

Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

A group of NIPSCO’s industrial consumers (including ArcelorMittal USA and BP Products North America, Inc.) has formally intervened in this case and is also expected to file testimony on January 10, 2014.

The State says NIPSCO’s testimony and exhibits in IURC Cause No. 44403 state that the proposed projects throughout its natural gas service territory would be built from 2014 through 2020 to replace aging infrastructure with installation of new transmission mains, installation of automated valves, and expansion into rural areas that do not have natural gas service.

The OUCC says NIPSCO plans to file its first TDSIC natural gas rate increase request in September 2014, and if the seven-year plan is approved by the IURC, NIPSCO’s first related natural gas rate increase of approximately 1% would take effect in 2015.  It says the annual rate increase amounts from 2016 through 2020 would vary annually, ranging from 1.5% to 1.9%, for an average annual percentage increase over the seven-year term of 1.4%.

An IURC technical evidentiary hearing in the natural gas case is scheduled to start February 10, 2014 at the PNC Center (101 W. Washington St.) in Indianapolis.

The State says that the new law’s timetable requires the IURC issue a final order on the seven-year plan no later than May 1, 2014.

More information about this rate case and the new law is available at www.in.gov/oucc/2750.htm.

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.

OUCC says this proposal, referred to by NIPSCO as its Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Plan, is separate from the utility’s electric infrastructure plan.  Information about NIPSCO’s electric plan and cases is at www.in.gov/oucc/2747.htm.

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