FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Indiana Michigan Power is hoping to "Innovate Indiana."
That means modernizing the energy grid, and making customers pay for it.
"I just don't understand how people are going to keep up with things," said customer Deb Preston.
In March 2018, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved a rate hike for I&M's "Building the Future" proposal to help with infrastructure needs.
"I just don't think it should come as quickly as it has," said Preston.
Now the utility wants to phase in another increase, up to an average of $21 a month.
While it may not seem a lot, Preston said that can add up fast for her family.
"It would be less I can help my mother with her needs and I take care of medications," she said.
I&M said the increase is needed to upgrade technology to help improve services.
Spokesman Tracy Warner said the biggest thing costumers will notice is new smart meters.
"It will help with outage restoration. When there is an outage, I&M will have the capability of learning about it sooner, learning more details about it," said Warner.
Customers will also be able to track their utility usage in real time instead of just on the monthly bill.
bills customers like Preston are already tracking.
NIPSCO recently raised the bills for natural gas customers and next month Fort Wayne water customers are expected to see those bills go up also.
Warner said I&M keeps that in mind every day.
"We do everything we can to keep our costs as low as possible while still getting the job done correctly," said Warner.
Preston said there needs to be more input for these decisions.
"I think they just need to get and talk with other people," said Preston.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission does have to approve any rate hike and there will be public later this year.
I&M said it will continue to work with customers who can't afford their utility bills under the "Innovate Indiana" program.
That program will create a fund to build new spec buildings and a job training program.
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