News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 18, 2014

Water company seeking comment on rate increase

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana American Water Co. is seeking a 9.8-percent increase for operating revenue, its fourth rate increase in the past three years. The increase could raise water bills $28.80 per year in the Wabash Valley, the company said.

The average monthly bill could increase more than $2 for Terre Haute/Wabash Valley and much of Indiana. The rate could increase to $39.75 per month from $37.35.

Indiana American Water in June 2012, sought an 8.6-percent base rate increase from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, a state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the IURC, recommended reducing that request 4 percent. The IURC’s final ruling gave Indiana American Water a 1-percent increase.

However, rates have since increased twice through the utility’s Distribution System Infrastructure Charge, a rate adjustment mechanism, or tracker, that allows investor-owned water utilities to increase rates to pay for aging infrastructure subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.

The water company’s most recent infrastructure increases were approved in December 2012 and December 2013, each at 2 percent, giving the company a 5 percent increase over the three years.

Now, the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is seeking written comments on the most recent proposed rate increase. The counselor’s office anticipates completing its review and filing testimony with the IURC on May 2.

Comments “are very important. Any written comments that we receive, our technical and legal staff assigned to the case will review those comments,” said Anthony Swinger, spokesman for the counselor’s office.

 “We will also file the comments with the IURC to be included in the formal case record. The IURC is required by law to review that entire record before it makes a decision and issues an order in any case,” Swinger said.

According to its testimony and exhibits, Indiana American is seeking the rate increase for several reasons, including paying for numerous infrastructure improvements. The projects include replacement of aging mains, treatment plant projects, storage tank renovation and other projects. The utility’s proposal would raise its total annual operating revenues by $19.6 million, an increase of approximately 9.8 percent.

The proposed rate increase would apply throughout most of the utility’s service territories.

More information on this case, including the utility’s testimony, can be found at www.in.gov/oucc/2654.htm. To submit a written comment on the website, go to www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm.

Comments can also be sent by fax at 317-232-5923 or by email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov.

Comments can also be sent via U.S. mail at: Consumer Services Staff Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Written comments the Utility Consumer Counselor receives by April 25 will be filed with the IURC and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44450.”

 Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the utility counselor’s staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

 

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