State utility watchdog advises against I&M rate hike request

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Indiana Michigan Power’s latest utility rate increase plan is getting strong opposition from a state utility watchdog group.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor said instead of a 6.5% rate hike, which would bring the Fort Wayne-based utility a $104-million annual increase, the utility should be aiming for a rate decrease of $6.3-million.

That’s according to a filing made with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“After receiving base rate increases in 2018 and 2020, I&M has not made the case for this increase at this time,” counselor Bill Fine said. “Our analysis of the utility’s request shows I&M to be a financially sound utility that is capable of providing safe and reliable service to its Indiana customers with the revenues it currently has.”

If the proposed rate increase is approved by the IURC, the average I&M customer bill would go up from $158 to $167 per month, plus the service charge would increase from $5 to $20.

I&M issued the following statement to 95.3 MNC:

“Indiana Michigan Power is reviewing the response from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) this week to I&M’s rate review request that was filed July 1, 2021.

“I&M respects the role of the OUCC in Indiana’s process of conducting utility rate reviews. The company plans to file a formal response to the OUCC’s concerns by Nov. 9, as established in the rate review process.

“I&M stands by its request for a 6.5% rate increase to best serve our customers in a safe, reliable manner by Powering the Next with investments in reliability, customer experience and new technologies. I&M invites customers and others interested in the rate review to learn more on its ‘Powering the Next’ Web page.”

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