UPDATE: This story has been updated to include I&M’s emailed response.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) The state agency that represents the interest of Indiana residents in matters involving utilities has recommended a denial of a rate hike request by Indiana Michigan Power.

In July, I&M announced it would pursue approval of a rate increase to improve technology, reliability, and customer experience. The utility indicated the rate hike would result in a less than $10 a month increase for the typical residential customer.

On Thursday, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) recommended the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) deny the rate request. The IURC makes the final decision regarding utility rate requests.

“After receiving base rate increases in 2018 and 2020, I&M has not made the case for this increase at this time,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine. “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.”

The OUCC based its decision on testimony from 11 expert witnesses as part of the agency’s three-month technical and legal review of evidence filed by I&M.

According to the OUCC, I&M now has until November 9, 2021 to file rebuttal testimony. The IURC is expected to make a final decision in the spring of 2022.

The utility emailed a response to WANE 15 Thursday night.

“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.”