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Public Comment Sought on NIPSCO Plan

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The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is seeking feedback from the public on Northern Indiana Public Service Company's 713-million-dollar plan for improvements in the utility company's natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system. Under a new state law approved this year, NIPSCO is seeking a rate increase that would amount to just below one-and-a-half percent annually through 2020, with no increase next year, and a one-percent rate increase in 2015.
This is separate from NIPSCO’s proposed one-billion dollar plan to improve its electric infrastructure, which would raise electric rates through 2020, with the first increase of 0.4 percent taking effect in 2015, and increases growing each year, reaching 1-point-7 percent in 2020.
Here's more info from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor:
(News Release) The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting written comments from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers on the utility’s $713 million plan for natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system improvements. NIPSCO intends to seek incremental gas rate recovery of the costs as the projects proceed, through a new rate adjustment mechanism. 
The OUCC – the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) – is reviewing the utility’s plan and has not yet taken a position in the pending IURC case. The OUCC anticipates completing its review and filing testimony on January 10, 2014.
NIPSCO has filed its request under a new Indiana law (Senate Enrolled Act 560) approved earlier this year.
  • The law allows an investor-owned electric or natural gas utility to seek IURC approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan.
  • If the plan is approved, the utility may then adjust rates every 6 months, subject to IURC and OUCC review, to recover project costs as they are incurred.
  • The rate adjustments – under a new Transmission, Distribution, and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) mechanism – may not exceed two percent of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.
  • Twenty percent of the costs must be deferred until the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the seven-year period.
NIPSCO’s testimony and exhibits in IURC Cause No. 44403 state that:
  • The proposed projects throughout its natural gas service territory would be built from 2014 through 2020.
  • Projects would include replacement of aging infrastructure, installation of new transmission mains, the installation of automated valves, and expansion into rural areas that currently do not have natural gas service.
  • NIPSCO plans to file its first TDSIC natural gas rate increase request in September 2014.
  • If the 7-year plan is approved by the IURC, NIPSCO’s first natural gas TDSIC rate increase of approximately 1.0 percent would take effect in 2015. The annual rate increase amounts from 2016 through 2020 would vary annually, ranging from 1.5 percent to 1.9 percent each year. The average annual percentage increase over the 7-year term is 1.4 percent.
  • Under the new law’s timing requirements, the IURC must issue a final order on the 7-year plan no later than May 1, 2014.
A group of NIPSCO’s industrial consumers (including ArcelorMittal USA and BP Products North America, Inc.) has formally intervened in this case and is also expected to file testimony on January 10, 2014.
For more information on this case and the new law, please visit www.in.gov/oucc/2750.htm.
This proposal – referred to by NIPSCO as its Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Plan – is separate from the utility’s electric infrastructure plan. For information on NIPSCO’s electric plan and cases, please visit www.in.gov/oucc/2747.htm.
An IURC technical evidentiary hearing in the natural gas case is scheduled to start February 10, 2014 at the PNC Center (101 W. Washington St.) in Indianapolis. While evidentiary hearings are open to the public, participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of expert witnesses who have filed technical testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties.
Consumers who wish to submit written comments may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
  • Mail: Consumer Services Staff
    Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
    115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   
  • Fax: (317) 232-5923
Written comments the OUCC receives by January 3, 2014 will be filed with the Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44403.
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
(IURC Cause No. 44403)
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.
Visit us at www.IN.gov/OUCC , www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC

 


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