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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ind. Gov't - An example of why who is on the IURC (and who is the UCC) is so important! [Updated]

A story today in the IBJ, reported by Kathleen McLaughlin, begins with a paragraph putting the settlemment the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) reached on behalf of customers of Indianapolis Power & Light Co (IPL) in the best possible light [emphasis supplied]:

Indianapolis Power & Light Co. customers would see less of a rate hike [than IPL initially requested] for an electric car-sharing program under a settlement agreement negotiated [on their behalf] by the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

The cost per month for a typical residence would be 28 cents, rather than 44 cents, the OUCC said in a press release about the settlement agreement, filed Thursday with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

IPL is seeking regulators’ permission to bill ratepayers for $16 million in costs associated with extending lines and installing charging stations for a proposed car-sharing service by BlueIndy, a subsidiary of France-based Bollore Group.

BlueIndy has an exclusive agreement with the city of Indianapolis to provide the car-sharing service, utilizing on-street parking spaces. Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler opposed the rate hike, saying it fell outside the scope of costs that state law allows IPL to charge to ratepayers.

Really. So before the request even goes to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the Utility Consumer Counselor (UCC) has agreed that Indianapolis ratepayers indeed will be billed for the service. More from the story:
Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, said his group continues to oppose allowing IPL to bill its customers for a service that will be used by a relative few.

“This settlement does not change the fact that the captive ratepayers of IPL are being forced to subsidize a French multibillion-dollar corporation for a project that has nothing to do with providing electric service,” Olson said.

ILB: See also this ILB post from Aug. 14th, headed "Ind. Gov't. - Names of three finalists for IURC vacancy sent to Govenor."

[Updated at 6:39 PM] The ILB has now received a copy of the news release of our Utility Consumer Counselor in the IPL electric vehicle case. It ends:

“We have taken into account the risks of litigation and the concessions the OUCC was able to obtain for the benefit of IPL ratepayers from the city and IPL following intensive negotiations,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “IPL customers will also benefit from a creative and innovative street lighting plan, along with the real potential for the establishment of other meaningful energy savings initiatives. Accordingly, we believe this agreement is in the public interest and should be approved by the IURC.”
ILB thoughts: There will still be litigation. It will be over the question of whether the utility law allows charging the ratepayer for this type of unrelated business-development project. Otherwise, the URC's settlement will establish that precedent for the future, not only in this case, but with respect to any of the state's utilities.

See also this new post from the blog, Advance Indiana.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 21, 2014 12:54 PM
Posted to Indiana Government