IURC right to shut down request by utility companies


The Tribune

Last month, a group of powerful Indiana utility companies united to devise a plan to make up for lost revenue.

If approved, the proposal would please shareholders….but hurt small Hoosier business owners already under financial strain from a global pandemic.

In short, the request — a joint petition signed by 10 utilities — asked that the utilities be allowed to categorize lower energy sales as an expense, which in turn would allow them to collect lost revenue from consumers.

Those collections would charge consumers, for no fault of their own, for energy they never used.

Thankfully, the profiteering proposal was rejected in a unanimous vote on Monday by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

The request stated that the companies had lost significant revenue due to the number of businesses and factories closed by COVID-19.

While that may be true, the utility companies can’t pin the losses on consumers.

No business or factory hoped to close because of the virus. Many, deemed non-essential, were forced to close doors because of the public health emergency regulations placed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

According to the Indiana Business Journal, the utility consumer office said the utilities also did not present evidence they were facing financial emergencies.

The IURC was right in voting against the measure. The request for consumers to pay for energy they never used — during a global pandemic — is preposterous.

Had the regulators granted the request, it also would’ve shown special treatment to the utility companies over small business owners of different industries.

On top of the move, the commission prohibited utilities from disconnecting customers, or imposing additional fees, through Aug. 14. The policy was set to expire on June 30.

The decision by the IURC should be applauded and used as an example of how regulators need to keep big business in check.

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