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State to investigate pandemic’s impact on utilities and their customers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State officials will investigate how the pandemic is affecting utilities and their customers. This investigation comes after a petition from consumer advocates and another from utility companies.

One petition was filed by a group of utilities, including IPL and Duke Energy, asking for relief from lost revenue due to the pandemic. The second was from the office of the utility consumer counselor, asking for extensions on ratepayer protections. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission combined those petitions into one case, which the state will investigate in two phases.

The first phase will address disconnections, utility fees, and customer payment arrangements. During the second phase, the utilities will have to show the pandemic has caused them to lose money. But the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor — which represents customers in these type of cases — says this is beyond normal requests of this kind.

“Utilities have collected bad debt costs through rates for many mean years, so there are some things that are not unprecedented,” said OUCC Spokesperson Anthony Swinger. “When you talk about the lost revenue request though, that’s really getting into unprecedented ground and it would create a very high bar that the utilities would have to clear.”

Disconnections are banned through the end of June. The IURC wants to have a decision on disconnections, and relief for customers, before then.

If you would like to comment on the case, you can do so online, by mail and by e-mail.

www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm

Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204

uccinfo@oucc.in.gov

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