Customers of the
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) who wish to comment on
NIPSCO’s pending natural gas rate request will have several opportunities to
The Indiana Office
of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency representing consumer
interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC),
is currently reviewing NIPSCO’s request and is scheduled to file testimony
on Jan. 24.
Meanwhile, the OUCC
is inviting written comments from NIPSCO’s residential, commercial, and
industrial gas customers through Jan. 17, and will hold a public field
hearing in Lake County on a date and at a location yet to be determined.
testimony and exhibits, NIPSCO’s request would raise an average monthly
residential natural gas bill for 69 therms by $10.35 if and when the
proposed increase is fully implemented, although the impact on specific
bills will vary based on usage.
The request would
give NIPSCO’s gas utility a $143.5 million increase in overall annual
operating revenues, which is a raise of approximately 22.7 percent over
current natural gas revenues.
NIPSCO has said
that it’s seeking the new rates due to increases in operating and
maintenance costs, and to pay for numerous system upgrades. The utility’s
request includes more than $9.5 million in new program expenses. It includes
a significant increase in depreciation expenses in addition to cost recovery
for infrastructure projects in its Transmission, Distribution, and Storage
System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) plan, which received IURC approval in
2014. By law, NIPSCO has been allowed to recover 80 percent of the plan’s
capital projects and expenses through its TDSIC tracker. The law required
the utility to defer the remaining costs to its next base rate case.
increase in this case would only apply to NIPSCO’s base distribution rates,
which currently comprise approximately 49 percent of a typical residential
natural gas customer’s monthly heating bill. Base distribution rates cover
“non-gas” expenses such as capital improvements and the costs of operations
gas supply costs, which currently make up 51 percent of a typical customer’s
bill, are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the state’s Gas
Cost Adjustment (GCA) process. NIPSCO files its GCA requests, which require
OUCC review and IURC approval, every three months. The pending rate case
will not affect the GCA process.
natural gas base rates received IURC approval in 2010, though amounts on
customer bills have changed due to the utility’s TDSIC tracker and
fluctuations in wholesale natural gas costs.
Electric rates are
not at issue in this case.
Consumers who wish
to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC’s
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
* e-mail: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
* Fax: (317)
The OUCC needs to
receive all written consumer comments no later than Jan. 17. Comments should
include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause
No. 44988.” Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can
contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at (888) 441-2494.
parties have intervened in this case, including the Citizens Action
Coalition of Indiana, Direct Energy Business Marketing LLC, Arcelor Mittal
USA, Arconic Inc., BP Products North America Inc., Cargill Inc., Fiat
Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors LLC, NLMK Indiana, Praxair Inc., U.S.
Steel Corporation, and USG Corporation.
A final order is
expected next summer. The OUCC is posting case updates online at