I&M plan calls for hefty rate increase

Staff Writer

    I&M President and COO Toby Thomas recently announced I&M has filed a "Building the Future" plan with the independent, bi-partisan Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, specifying work to "reliably and responsibly serve customers" in the ways they want to be served.
    "We have asked the commission to adjust our rates to reflect those costs," Thomas said. "This is the first time in six years, and only the third time in the past 25 years, I&M has asked for a review of its base rates in Indiana."
    With projects such as solar power planes, "cutting-edge" transmission lines being installed outside of Fort Wayne and more — both under way and in the planning stages — I&M is modernizing and enhancing energy delivery and generation to meet changing needs for years to come. According to Thomas, current and future projects will improve the reliability of our system, with new equipment and technology to reduce the extent and duration of outages.
    What will happen if the proposal is approved, according to Thomas?
    • An energy delivery system more resilient to weather, as miles of aging wires and hundreds of poles are replaced with newer and stronger equipment. Reliability will also be improved by systematically trimming and clearing trees, which are the number one source of customer outages;
    • The ability for I&M to smoothly facilitate the transition from coal to more diverse energy sources and be ready to offer smart meters to give customers the power to better monitor and control their energy use;
    • More options for customers to support renewable energy with a voluntary program to use more wind and solar power;
    • The elimination of the third-party fee assessed when customers charge their bill to a credit card.
    Thomas said, "If I&M’s plan is approved, the monthly cost to a household using 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy would be about $25. That figure includes a proposed increase in the flat customer charge. Details about the Building the Future plan are available at www.IndianaMichiganPower.com/BuildingtheFutureIndiana."
    There is a way for Indiana residents to talk to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission about this proposal.
    Because I&M is seeking a base rate increase of approximately $263 million in IURC Cause No. 44967, the OUCC is reviewing I&M's request and is scheduled to file testimony on Nov. 7.
    I&M customers may comment for the formal case record by:
    • Sending written consumer comments to the OUCC by Nov. 2;
    • Speaking at one of the three IURC public field hearings in this case. Each of the following will start at 6 p.m.:
        — Oct. 2 in South Bend, Century Center, Recital Hall, 120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.;
        — Oct. 10 in Fort Wayne, Grand Wayne Convention Center, Calhoun Ballroom A, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.;
        — Oct. 30 in Muncie, Muncie City Hall Auditorium, 300 N. High St.

    OUCC is open from 8:15 a.m.- 4:45 p.m., Monday-Friday (excluding state holidays).
    They may be reached through an electronic contact form, by mail, e-mail, phone or fax.
    Comments on pending cases should be submitted in writing (either by mail, fax or online) so the OUCC can properly review and file them with the Utility Regulatory Commission.
    Those who wish to provide comments on a pending case, specify the case as clearly as possible by including the utility's name, the issue in question (for example: rate increase, service territory expansion, etc.) and the IURC cause number (44967 in this case). It is also important you include the following information:
    • Full name;
    • Mailing address;
    • E-mail address if applicable;
    • Daytime telephone number.
    Send e-mails to uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
    Mail letters to Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, PNC Center, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South Indianapolis, IN 46204.
    Faxes may be sent to (317) 232-5923.
    Phone calls may be made to 1-888-441-2494 or (317) 232-2494 voice/TDD.