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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Advocacy group heralds court decision: Ruling on Merrillville water service remanded back to IURC

This story by Deborah Laverty in the Munster (NW Indiana) Times reports that:

A state consumer advocacy group called a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision "good news" for residents formerly served by Lincoln Utilities water distribution system.

That decision, announced at this week's Town Council meeting, lets stand a Sept. 13 ruling made by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The ruling is on the side of about 2,000 business and residential customers and not new owner Indiana Water Services, said Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor spokesman Anthony Swinger.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruling reversed an earlier decision by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that said Indiana Water Services could recoup 90 percent of the $1.25 million purchase price of the former Lincoln Utilities.

That recoupment cost would have meant each customer could be asked to pay about $7 a month, or $85 extra a year.

"It's good news for the customers of the utility. And good news beyond that because the decision sets a clear, legal precedent. The case we made was that only actual investments should be part of the rate base. We made that case and the court order clarifies that," Swinger said.

IURC spokeswoman Mary Beth Fisher said the case is now remanded back to the commission, which must issue a new order.

The case referenced is Office of Utility Consumer Counselor v. Lincoln Utilities Inc. and Indiana Water Service Inc. Here is a link to the ILB entry on the 9/13/05 Court of Appeals decision. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer (i.e. let stand the Court of Appeals decision) on Jan. 4, 2006. See the Court's Jan. 6, 2006 transfer list here (on page 3).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 15, 2006 09:04 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions | Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions