Duke customers to have opportunity to provide feedback


Duke Energy Indiana customers will have opportunities to weigh in on and learn more about the energy provider’s pending rate increase in the coming months.

The request, which requires state approval, would raise rates in two phases with hikes going into place in 2020 and 2021, according to a news release from Duke Energy.

If approved, annual operating revenues would rise by $395 million, or about 15.5%, after fully phased in. The breakdown includes a 19% increase for residents, 16.7% for commercial, 11.3% for industry and 16.3% for lower industrial consumption.

What it would do to ratepayers is raise a monthly bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours from $120.30 to $142.95 after full implementation.

Chip Orben, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy, said the company has added 100,000 customers since the 2004 rate case, which is why residential increases are more than the others.

“We’ve accumulated costs over those years, and we’ve been spreading that out over customers since that time,” he said. “We recognize that nobody likes rate increases. We feel what we asked for is what we really need.”

The increase proposal was filed with the state July 2, and officials recently announced three field hearings will take place early next year in Carmel, New Albany and Terre Haute. The public will be given the opportunity to provide comments at those hearings.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, which represents consumer interests in matters before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, is reviewing Duke Energy’s request. The utility consumer counselor office is scheduled to file testimony Oct. 30, according to the news release.

The utility consumer counselor office invites written comments from Duke Energy’s residential, commercial and industrial customers through Oct. 23.

Consumers will be able to address the IURC at the meetings under oath and on the record regarding the case. Written comments also will be accepted at the meeting. IURC commissioners aren’t allowed to answer questions about the case, but utility consumer counselor office staff will be available before, during and after the hearing to address questions about the process.

Commissioners have the authority to reject a proposal, and it’s possible parties could come to a settlement, Orben said.

Duke Energy provides electric service to about 840,000 customers in 69 Indiana counties, including 13,000 in Jackson County. The company provides service to 23,000 in Bartholomew County and 4,000 in Jennings County.

Duke Energy contends it needs the new rates to keep up with operating and maintenance costs and capital improvements.

Those costs include deploying advanced metering infrastructure, ash pond closures and remediating coal-fired generating plants, plans to retire coal-fired units earlier than scheduled, tree-trimming and vegetation management, electric vehicle incentives, investments in natural gas and additional grid technology.

The company’s vegetation management budget would nearly triple if the plan is accepted. Orben said Duke Energy receives about $14 million annually through rates and would receive $40 million under the proposal.

Vegetation management would prevent outages, he said.

“Vegetation is one of the key reasons we have outages,” he said. “If we can get to vegetation and get it taken care of in advance, then it’s not as likely to impact it down the road.”

The IURC approved Duke Energy’s current base rates in 2004, but billing amounts have risen over time because of rate recovery mechanisms called trackers.

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What: Public hearing on Duke Energy’s rate increase proposal

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 23

Where: South High School auditorium, 3737 S. Seventh St., Terre Haute

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What: Public hearing on Duke Energy’s rate increase proposal

When: 6 p.m. Oct. 1

Where: New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Facilities Services Center, 2801 Grant Line Road, New Albany

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Can’t make it to a public hearing on Duke Energy’s rate increase proposal?

Submit comments online at in.gov/oucc/2361.htm or email [email protected].

Customers also may submit comments by mail at Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.


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