Debate switched on over utility bill

Local News
Bill on utility regulations sparks protest

A group of protesters, led by an environmental organization gathered Thursday to argue against a statehouse bill that, they claim, could make it easier for utility companies to add fees.

House Bill 1470  passed out of the house and into the senate a week ago. Sponsored by three Republicans and two Democrats, the bill “amends the statute concerning transmission, distribution, and storage system improvements charges (TDSIC) for electric and gas utilities to provide that for purposes of the statute.” 

Democrat Representative Ryan Hatfield, who sponsored the bill, told WANE 15 News the bill was designed to clarify a previous law. It will give utility companies more flexibility to make back money spent on infrastructure improvements. 

He added that increases would still need to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“The same commission that would review them otherwise is required under this plan as well,” Hatfield explained. “and at the end of the day it’s about building out important infrastructure so that Indiana is powered from the south to the north.”

The Sierra Club protestors claimed Thursday the bill would make it easier for electric companies like Indiana Michigan Power to add fees, raising customers’ bills.

“We’re just tired of them using us for their money making decisions without taking into account what their customers actually want them to do,” Becky Gonzalez said.

WANE 15 News reached out to Indiana Michigan Power for a response to the protest. A statement into the newsroom reads: 

“Concern being raised by special interest groups regarding legislation to enhance reliability and plan for the future of energy delivery appears to be contrary to our obligation to serve our customers 24/7 the way they want and should be served.” –  Brian Bergsma, Director of Communications and Government Affairs for Indiana Michigan Power

A senate vote is expected to happen Thursday, March 14. 

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