Commission approves I&M rate agreement

Fort Wayne, Ind. (May 30, 2018) – The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has approved an approximate seven percent increase in rates for service to customers of Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) that will support investments to enhance reliability and customer service as part of I&M’s Building the Future proposal.

The rates and numerous additional aspects of the IURC’s decision approve provisions of the settlement agreement that was the result of the constructive efforts by I&M and a number of entities, including the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the Sierra Club and the cities of Fort Wayne, South Bend and Muncie.

The IURC’s order will support I&M’s proactive infrastructure improvements designed to reduce the number and extent of power outages. The decision also positions I&M to better serve customers in a number of other ways, including:

• Allocating nearly $1 million to establish new programs helping those who meet income qualifications to pay their energy bills and reduce energy use.

• Granting up to $700,000 to communities and agencies in its Indiana service territory to help boost local economic development.

• Facilitating the transition to more diverse sources of energy, including renewable resources.

• Eliminating the fee for payments by credit card.

“I&M constantly works to provide our customers with reliable service in a cost-efficient manner,” said Toby Thomas, I&M President and Chief Operating Officer. “This first rate review in five years will move I&M forward and provide more customer and community-centered programs to help our lower-income customers and the communities we serve. At the same time, we are Building the Future by boosting infrastructure and transitioning for our future generation needs.”

Under the IURC rate order, I&M is authorized to receive an additional $96.8 million, or 7.26 percent, per year to deliver energy in its service territory. The increase is well below I&M’s original proposal of $263 million, or 19.7 percent, in part because the new rates include tax savings resulting from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The monthly increase for a typical residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours would be $9.41, or less than 32 cents per day. That includes the proposed customer charge portion of the bill, which will be $10.50 per month for a residential customer, second lowest among Indiana’s major electric utilities. The change in the monthly customer charge is included in the overall 7 percent increase.

Several key aspects of I&M’s Building the Future plan supported by the commission would increase reliability with infrastructure investments, including work to modernize I&M’s aging energy delivery system with expanded technology as well as stronger poles and wires. I&M also plans to address its No. 1 source of customer outages by systematically establishing and maintaining clearance between power lines and trees.

The Building the Future plan also enables I&M to facilitate the transition to more diverse sources of energy by preparing for the eventual retirement of its Rockport Unit 1 generating plant and to launch a new renewable energy program in which customers can choose solar and wind energy to comprise a specified percentage of their own energy use – from 10 percent to 100 percent.

As part of the IURC rate order, I&M will collaborate with the IURC, the OUCC and other stakeholders to establish performance metrics that will be reviewed by the IURC. I&M welcomes the opportunity to work with stakeholders to continue to show our focus on reliable and efficient energy delivery to our customers.

I&M will launch the following programs:

• I&M will provide $250,000 to the Indiana Community Action Association for a new program to help qualified low-income customers with their winter electric bills.

• I&M will provide an additional $150,000 to the Community Action organization for home weatherization, which reduces energy use. The association includes Brightpoint in northeast Indiana; REAL Services in north central Indiana; and, in central Indiana, the Interlocal Community Action Program, JobSource, and Community and Family Services.

• I&M will establish the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program to give residential customers the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to a fund that will help low-income customers with their bills. I&M will fund the launching of the program with $50,000.

• I&M will establish a two-year pilot program to help low-income customers manage their electric bill. I&M will fund the program with up to $500,000.

• To lead economic development in the communities I&M serves, the company will create the $700,000 Economic Impact Grant Program to partner with communities and organizations to pursue qualified economic development projects.

• I&M will also collaborate with communities to increase the outreach of the company’s energy-saving weatherization and energy efficiency programs for low-income residents and to develop electric vehicle charging programs.

I&M’s new rates will be phased in, becoming partially effective with July bills and fully effective early in 2019.

Source: Indiana Michigan Power