The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved a more than 7 percent rate increase for Fort Wayne-based Indiana Michigan Power. The utility says the increase will generate nearly $97 million in additional revenue to support the infrastructure improvements as part of its Building the Future plan. The commission’s decision follows a settlement I&M reached with stakeholders including the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and the cities of Fort Wayne, South Bend and Muncie.
I&M’s original proposal called for a 19.7 percent rate increase, which would have generated $263 million in additional revenue. Under the order approved by the IURC, the average I&M residential customer will see an increase of about $10.50 per month on their electric bill.
The utility says the new rates will be phased in, with the first phase beginning in July. The rate increase will be fully effective in early 2019.
"I&M constantly works to provide our customers with reliable service in a cost-efficient manner," said Toby Thomas, chief operating officer of I&M. "This first rate review in five years will move I&M forward and provide more customer and community-centered programs to help our lower-income customers and the communities we serve. At the same time, we are Building the Future by boosting infrastructure and transitioning for our future generation needs."
I&M says the approval also allows for other efforts, including:
- Allocating nearly $1 million to establish new programs helping those who meet income qualifications to pay their energy bills and reduce energy use.
- Granting up to $700,000 to communities and agencies in its Indiana service territory to help boost local economic development.
- Facilitating the transition to more diverse sources of energy, including renewable resources.
- Eliminating the fee for payments by credit card.
The utility adds, as part of the IURC order, it will collaborate with the commission, the OUCC and other stakeholders to establish performance metrics which will be reviewed by the IURC. I&M will also launch new programs, such as:
- I&M will provide $250,000 to the Indiana Community Action Association for a new program to help qualified low-income customers with their winter electric bills.
- I&M will provide an additional $150,000 to the Community Action organization for home weatherization, which reduces energy use. The association includes Brightpoint in northeast Indiana; REAL Services in north central Indiana; and, in central Indiana, the Interlocal Community Action Program, JobSource, and Community and Family Services.
- I&M will establish the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program to give residential customers the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to a fund that will help low-income customers with their bills. I&M will fund the launching of the program with $50,000.
- I&M will establish a two-year pilot program to help low-income customers manage their electric bill. I&M will fund the program with up to $500,000.
- To lead economic development in the communities I&M serves, the company will create the $700,000 Economic Impact Grant Program to partner with communities and organizations to pursue qualified economic development projects.
- I&M will also collaborate with communities to increase the outreach of the company’s energy saving weatherization and energy efficiency programs for low-income residents and to develop electric vehicle charging programs.
You can learn more about the Building the Future plan by clicking here.