INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana’s utility consumer advocate organization issued sharp criticism of Indianapolis Power & Light’s request to state regulators for a $67.7 million rate increase, and it’s urging the utility to step up its efforts to address problems with its underground power network in downtown Indianapolis.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor – OUCC – says the state’s Utility Regulatory Commission should limit IPL’s rate increase to just $5.9 million – more than 90 percent less than IPL is asking for.
IPL’s rate increase and the regulatory commission’s investigation into IPL’s network infrastructure has been combined into one case. In testimony filed Monday, the OUCC said that there have been 14 fires or explosions in the downtown network since 2010, and hundreds of cable or other network failures over the last 12 years. It also said that IPL is moving too slowly to install manhole covers that will stay in place in case of explosion.
Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler said that IPL has the revenues it needs to make the improvements to its underground networks and provide safe and reliable service to customers.
And he said the agency’s investigation showed “a story of misguided leadership and misplaced priorities, with critical downtown infrastructure needs taking a back seat to shareholder dividends.”
In its testimony, Stippler’s agency also recommended that IPL perform a management audit, begin a performance benchmarking program and hire an independent agency to audit the utility’s asset management system.
A coalition of consumer advocacy and social justice groups is also recommending that the state utility regulatory commission reject IPL's rate increase request. They're also asking the utility commission to push IPL to create a low-income rate class for consumers who are living in poverty.
IPL has until September 4th to file rebuttal testimony. An IURC evidentiary hearing is scheduled to start on September 16.