FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The public had a chance to speak out about a proposed electric rate hike request from Indiana Michigan Power at a hearing held Monday at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The hearing was conducted by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents consumer interests in relation to the rate hike request.

According to the OUCC, I&M is seeking a two-phase increase that would raise annual revenues by $116.4 million. Residential monthly service charges would rise from $14.79 to $17.50. The volumetric part of each customer’s base rate would also increase. According to I&M’s testimony and exhibits, the proposal would raise a monthly 1,000-kilowatt hour (kWh) residential bill by $14.83 once the increase fully takes effect in January 2025.

In its testimony, the utility states it is seeking the increase due to higher operating and maintenance expenses, as well as infrastructure improvements. Specific projects include replacement of I&M’s customer information system, completion of advanced meter deployments, and studies for the possible extension of the Cook Nuclear Plant operating license.

I&M serves more than 482,000 electric customers in northern and east-central Indiana. Its current base rates received IURC approval in 2022.

The sole purpose of the field hearing is to receive public testimony. A final decision is expected next year.

Olivia Riveria with the OUCC said the feedback process is one that is taken very seriously.

“You will be sworn in just like you are if you’re in a courtroom and you will have the opportunity to provide your comments on the record,” Rivera said. “There’ll be a court reporter there it’s transcribing them. So it definitely has a court feeling to it.”

Public comment will be collected until Nov. 8, then the OUCC will make their recommendations. 

The process goes between the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the OUCC. The OUCC (which is holding the hearing tonight) represents the ratepayers, and the IURC has jurisdiction over the utilities. 

Once committees have discussed, made briefs and examined the evidence a new rate will be ordered in the summer of 2024.

  • Consumers can speak directly to the Commission under oath and on the record.
  • Oral comments presented during the field hearings will become part of the case record. They will carry the same weight as written consumer comments submitted to the OUCC by Nov. 8, 2023.
  • Utilities do not make presentations or answer questions during field hearings. The focus, again, is on public input. In this case, I&M filed testimony and exhibits in August 2023.
  • Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions about the case. They will ultimately render a decision after weighing evidence from the utility, the OUCC, and intervening parties. OUCC staff will be available to answer questions at the hearings.

Those who can’t make it to Monday night’s meeting can visit the OUCC’s official website for details on how to submit comments.