Dozens speak against Indiana Michigan Power's latest proposed rate increase

I&M is proposing raising its annual revenues by $172 million over two years, which is about an 11.75% increase when it is fully phased in.

Posted: Jul 16, 2019 10:44 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2019 1:58 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Dozens of people went before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Tuesday to speak against Indiana Michigan Power's proposed rate increase.

I&M is proposing raising its annual revenues by $172 million over two years, which is about an 11.75 percent increase when it is fully phased in.

Customers can submit written comments for the case record may do so in three ways

Visiting the OUCC's website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm

Email: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

Mail:

Consumer Services Staff

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

The utility said the money will go toward technology improvements, such as installing new smart meters.

Many people at the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor hearing in Fort Wayne Tuesday felt the increase was too much, especially those on fixed incomes.

RELATED: INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER ASKING REGULATORS TO APPROVE SECOND RATE HIKE IN TWO YEARS

"I track my electric usage. Even I don't want it down to the hour. It's unnecessary. It's a nice idea," said Scott Troemel.

"No one can tell me they are doing a good job at controlling their costs," said Penny Koehl.

Even leaders at Fort Wayne Community Schools said the proposed increase is too much.

FWCS energy coordinator James Cotter, Jr. told regulators the proposal would cost the district $400,000.

Cotter said state lawmakers want to see that money go toward teachers and other needs.

"That's about the equivalent to 10 full time teacher salaries. That 400-thousand dollars approaches 25% of the operations fund increase that we just received from the state," he said.

Cotter also said FWCS has cut it's energy usage by 23 percent in seven years.

This isn't the first time I&M went before regulators recently.

Similar hearings were held two years ago for other infrastructure improvements.

Regulators did approve an increase, but not as much what I&M was asking for.

"At the heart of everything we do is our customers. No one likes a rate increase, we understand that. we would not be propossing anything that we didn't think was absolutely necessary," said Indiana Michigan Power Director of Corporate Communications & Governmental Affairs Brian Bergsma.

However, those like Jim Kline said the increases need to stop.

"We can't afford it. My wife is disable. We can't even afford her medication," he said.

Customers can submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC's website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, by email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov, or by mail at:

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

Comments need to be submitted by August 13.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is expected to make a decision about the rate proposal in March 2020.

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