I&M proposes 11.75% rate hike, installing smart meters

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Indiana Michigan Power has submitted a proposal asking for a 11.75% rate increase. 

The Innovate Indiana plan was submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) on Tuesday.

According to I&M, the plan would aim to:

  • Build a smarter grid by incorporating smart meters at every home
  • Empower customers with smart meters to monitor and control energy use
  • Create incentives for electric vehicles

If approved, it would be implemented in three step increases. The first would be in the spring of 2020, then June 1, 2020, and would be in full effect by early 2021. 

Once fully in place, I&M says a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will see an increased cost of $21.11. 

According to I&M, the company would replace current customer meters with smart meters to better detect and respond to outages. The new meters would also allow customers to monitor their energy use by the hour through a website or app. There is also a function for the meters to send customers alerts throughout the month based on a set spending budget. Over 10,000 I&M customers currently have the meters. 

“It will give customers a lot more power over their energy use,” said Tracy Warner, I&M spokesperson. “For example, a customer may see at 4 o’clock every day they’re using more energy, why that is, and decide to look at that and use that information to change their energy habits.”

Many customers don’t think the new meters are necessary or say that if I&M wants the meters, they should pay for them. I&M said as a regulated utility, they pay for infrastructure and other costs through rates. Costs and expenses must be approved by the IURC, which is an independent government agency.

“Customers are paying for the cost of everything we need to do with our system,” Warner said. “They’re paying for better poles, better wires, new transformers. They’re paying to better serve their needs well into the future.”

The plan also includes an incentive for charging electric vehicles. I&M says it would offer a $500 rebate to help cover the cost of charging equipment. This would go to first 1,000 customers to apply annually. There would also be a lower rate to charge vehicles overnight. 

An increase in monthy service costs was also proposed, raising the charge from $10.50 to $15. I&M says the service cost increase is included in the new rates. 

I&M was approved for a 7% rate increase in March 2018 to improve aging poles and wires as well as maintain clearance between power lines and trees. 

The IURC will review I&M’s request and will offer an opportunity for public input. 

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