Tribune Staff Reports
An Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission public hearing in the Indiana American Water rate case has been set in Seymour.
It is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 7 in Seymour High School’s Earl D. Prout Auditorium along Community Drive.
Consumers are encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. that day for an overview of field hearing procedures and the rate case process.
The company’s proposal would raise rates in two phases, increasing its total annual operating revenues by $38.8 million.
For most residential customers using 5,000 gallons per month, the monthly bill would rise from $43.70 to $46.81 in July 2019, then to $50.34 in July 2020. These amounts include fire protection surcharges.
Within the rates, the utility’s proposal would raise its flat monthly residential customer charge from $14.23 to $20.17 in 2019 and to $22.35 in 2020.
In Seymour, the monthly residential bill for 5,000 gallons would rise from $43.14 to $46.51 in 2019 and $50.34 in 2020.
During the hearing, consumers can speak to the commission, under oath and on the record, and/or submit written comments for the case record. Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor officials, however, will be available before, during and after the hearing to address questions about the process.
The OUCC, the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the regulatory commission, is using its legal and technical resources to review the company’s request and is scheduled to file testimony Dec. 21.
Indiana American Water, which provides service to approximately 302,000 customers in more than 50 Hoosier communities, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Voorhees, New Jersey-based American Water Inc.
In its testimony and exhibits, the company attributes the requested rate increase to numerous infrastructure investments, including the replacement of aging water distribution lines throughout its service territories, including the addition of ultraviolet disinfection.
Additional projects identified in the utility’s testimony include a new water treatment plant in Noblesville, new disinfection technology at other plants, new meters, hydrants and valves, new security systems, pumping station upgrades, tank painting and rehabilitation and others.
The utility’s request includes the recent costs of acquiring the municipal utilities in Charlestown and Sheridan and a proposal to create a new low-income pilot program in Muncie and Terre Haute, which would provide discounts for qualifying customers. The utility is not seeking cost recovery for the pilot program in this case but states in testimony it intends to do so in the future.
Current base rates for the company received regulatory commission approval in January 2015. Rates, however, have increased three times since then through the utility’s Distribution System Infrastructure Charge, a rate tracker (or adjustment mechanism) that allows investor-owned water utilities to increase rates to pay for aging infrastructure subject to OUCC review and IURC approval within short time frames.
The company’s most recent DSIC increases were approved in May 2016, March 2017 and March 2018. In October of this year, rates were reduced due to federal tax law changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Consumers who wish to submit written comments may do so via the OUCC’s website at in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, via email at [email protected] or by mail at Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Dec. 14 so that it can consider them in preparing its testimony and file them with the commission to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record.
Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address and a reference to IURC Cause No. 45142.
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 888-441-2494. Do not include account numbers or other sensitive information.
A regulatory order is expected during the first half of 2019. The OUCC is posting updates on this case at in.gov/oucc/2654.htm. Case updates also are available through the agency’s monthly electronic newsletter. Consumers can subscribe at in.gov/oucc/2877.htm.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
What: Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission public hearing in the Indiana American Water rate case
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday (Consumers are encouraged to arrive by 5:45 p.m. that day for an overview of field hearing procedures and the rate case process)
Where: Seymour High School’s Earl D. Prout Auditorium along Community Drive in Seymour