A consumer advocate group says Indiana Michigan Power doesn’t need most of its proposed $172 million rate increase. Under I&M’s proposal, customers’ monthly bills would go up by more than 11% — an increase of about $21 for a typical resident.
The utility says it would go to pay for things like smart meters and electric vehicle charging stations.
But Anthony Swinger with the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor says I&M also wants to offer a discount for customers that use more than 900 kilowatt hours a month — mostly businesses and industrial companies.
“You're not sending the right price signals to customers. It discourages energy efficiency and it can shift the burden more toward customers who use less,” Swinger says.
Swinger says the rate increase also seems to benefit employees and shareholders rather than customers. The OUCC is proposing I&M receive a much smaller rate increase of less than $2 million.
Kerwin Olson with the Citizens Action Coalition says I&M just got approved for a more than $96 million increase last year.
“It's very disheartening to see a company that is financially healthy, performing well in the marketplace, pleasing their investors. Meanwhile, customers continue to struggle with their bills,” he says.
Swinger says more than 500 customers have commented on the case so far.
I&M released the following statement in response to the OUCC's recommendations:
“I&M is committed to providing our customers with continued exceptional service. We welcome the public process and the opportunity to hear from our customers and stakeholders on our recent Innovate Indiana rate review filing. We are reviewing the testimonies submitted and will provide our response within the framework of the public IURC rate review process over the next few months.”
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.