I&M files rate hike request for technology, reliability and ‘customer experience’ upgrades

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is proposing a rate increase that would result in a less than $10 a month increase for the typical residential customer.

In a press release issued to the media, I&M said it has filed a rate review with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) proposing a $104 million revenue increase.

According to I&M the actual increase for residential, commercial and industrial customers will vary depending on electricity usage. If the IURC approves the proposal, a typical residential customer, who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a month, would pay less than $10 more per month. They will see their bill go up from about $158 to $167 per month, a 6% increase, or less than 33-cents per day.

Included in the increase, is a request to increase I&M’s service charge. I&M proposes raising
the service charge to $20 per month from the current $15 per month, for a residential customer,
and the small commercial customer charge to $25 per month, from the current $19 per month.

I&M refers to its initiative to improve technology, reliability and customer experience as “Powering the Next.”

The utility plans to improve the electric grid to reduce the number and duration of power outages by taking the following steps:

  • Replacing 120 miles of overhead and underground power lines
  • Replacing more than 2,500 poles
  • Upgrading 16 substations
  • Inspecting and maintaining trees along 4,000 line miles – trees are the number one cause of outages

The following customer service improvements are included:

  • Continued investment in smart meters which provide customers with usage data, usage alerts and programs to help save money.
  • Expanded payment and billing options

I&M also plans to pursue new technology upgrades in the following areas:

  • 365 days a year protection from physical and cyber threats combined with new technology to include artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and other tools to facilitate automation
  • New self-healing technology to detect power outage and reroute electricity to customers. This includes the installation of more overhead line sensors and smart circuits which will allow the utility to more quickly respond to outages and limit safety risks.

The rate hike request requires approval from the IURC which will gather public testimony and hold a field hearing before making a final decision which if approved, may be lower than the original request. I&M last received approval for a rate request in early 2020.

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