Indiana state utility consumer advocate opposes most of I&M rate request

(Photo Supplied/ I&M Power)

INDIANA, (WOWO) – A state utility consumer advocate is opposing most of Indiana Michigan Power’s (I&M’s) rate increase request.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is recommending denial of substantial portions of I&M’s request for a $172-million rate increase, which would raise customer bills by 11.75%, or just over $21 per month.

RELATED: I&M requesting 11.75% rate increase

Almost 80 Fort Wayne residents showed up to a recent I&M rate hike hearing last month, all of which opposed the proposal. Many accused the utility of lacking compassion, and some called the proposal a “scam.”

RELATED: I&M criticized during rate hike hearing 

Following a three-month technical and legal review of I&M’s proposal, the OUCC recommends an increase of less than $2-million. The company received a $96.8-million rate increase in Indiana in May 2018.

“I&M is a financially sound utility, and the rate increase it received last year appears to be sufficient to cover its needs,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine.

The OUCC recommends that I&M’s monthly customer charge should remain at $10.50.

The agency also states the utility “has not presented a sufficient cost benefit analysis to support charging all customers for automated metering infrastructure, or ‘smart meters.'” More than 60% of the utility’s existing meters are not at the end of their useful lives.

For the full OUCC testimony, click here.

I&M has until September 17 to file rebuttal testimony. An IURC order is expected in March 2020.

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