The Indiana Utility
Regulatory Commission (IURC) has approved NIPSCO’s seven-year $713-million
plan to modernize its natural-gas transmission, distribution, and storage
The IURC issued its
order on Wednesday after finding the plan “reasonable.”
Indiana Public Service Company originally petitioned the IURC on Oct. 4,
pursuant to a new state law (Senate Enrolled Act 560), approved in 2013,
which allows an investor-owned electric or natural-gas utility to seek IURC
approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan. If that plan is
approved, the utility may then adjust its rates every six months, subject to
review by the IURC and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC),
to recover project costs as they are incurred.
’s total revenues each year. Meanwhile, 20
percent of the costs must be deferred until the utility’s next base rate
case, to be filed before the end of the seven-year period.
Among the projects
which NIPSCO will pursue over the next seven years: installing 80 miles of
transmission pipeline and adding automated valves ($280 million);
eliminating bare steel gas mains and replacing them with low pressure
systems ($61 million); extending natural gas service to rural areas ($99
million); and retrofitting lines for in-line inspection ($46 million).
NIPSCO is touting
“a number of direct benefits” of the plan, including “maintaining the
overall safety and integrity” of the company’s natural-gas system;
supporting “hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, including local trades”;
and providing a “direct local economic boost” through the investment of $713
million over seven years.
NIPSCO expects to
file its first TDSIC natural-gas rate increase request in September and the
first TDSIC rate increase of approximately 1.0 percent will take effect in
2015. The annual rate increases from 2016 to 2020 will vary annually,
ranging from 1.5 percent to 1.9 percent each year. The average annual
percentage increase over the seven-year term is 1.4 percent.
experience minimal bill impacts, with little to no change in their natural
gas bills for the first two years of the plan,” NIPSCO said.
businesses across the 32 counties we serve depend on safe, reliable, and
affordable natural-gas service,” said NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley. “We are proud
to be among the lowest cost natural-gas providers in Indiana. And this plan
helps to ensure a safe and modern natural-gas system for the future, while
continuing to maintain competitive rates for customers.”
work could begin as early as this summer, NIPSCO said.
The IURC’s approval
of NIPSCO’s natural-gas plan on Wednesday follows its approval in February
of the company’s seven-year $1.1-billion electric-infrastructure improvement
plan. Under that plan, annual rate increases through a surcharge on the