I-Team 8

Indiana utilities make move toward rate increase

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ten utilities, including Indianapolis Power & Light and Duke Energy, have filed a petition with the state about lost revenue due to coronavirus. It is the first step they need to take before asking for a rate increase.

The companies claim the pandemic and “related government orders have resulted in significantly reduced load and revenues for some utilities.” They also said costs increased because of overtime, sick time and employee sequestration.

Kerwin Olson with the Citizens Action Coalition is not happy about this petition.

“We found it simply outrageous,” Olson said. “Hoosiers struggle with record unemployment, food and housing insecurity, other financial instability as it relates to the pandemic. It’s really unconscionable to us that utility companies would come forth with a proposal to allow them to collect money for energy they didn’t sell.”

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission recently approved a rate hike for IPL, and Duke was already looking for a rate increase.

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The Indiana Energy Association, which represents the companies on the filing, insists this is not a request to raise rates, but instead to defer costs associated with the pandemic.

The association sent I-Team 8 the following statement:

“We know that this is a financial as well as a health crisis, and Indiana’s major utilities have voluntarily suspended disconnections for non-payment and taken other actions to help their customers from the very beginning. The moratorium on disconnects is still in effect, and if a customer is having difficulty paying their bill, we encourage them to contact their local utility to see what options may be available. Utilities have been offering unprecedented flexibility as it relates to payment plans, and we want to help customers get through this challenging time.

“As an essential service required to provide electric power to our customers 24/7, utilities have a responsibility to notify state utility regulators about significant financial impacts. The filing the utilities made at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is not a request to raise rates-it is a request to separately account for and defer costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. If the commission grants the request, then separate proceedings in the future would deliberate the costs and any rate impacts. At least 29 states have seen similar regulatory actions, and the list is growing as issues for energy customers and our industry are ongoing.”

The Indiana Energy Association

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is asking that the suspension of disconnections extend beyond the current June 4 deadline.

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