MERRILLVILLE - The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved a settlement agreement regarding Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. LLC's proposed natural gas rate increase. The new rates will be phased in over the next two years and NIPSCO says the additional revenue will be used to fund infrastructure upgrades.

The increase will generate nearly $95 million in new revenue for the utility. Once the new rates are phased in, NIPSCO says the average residential customer will see an overall increase of approximately $8 per month. That includes a $3 increase in the monthly customer charge. 

"This agreement will ensure that the utility will have the revenues needed to complete numerous upgrades throughout its gas transmission and distribution system, while mitigating the rate impact as much as possible," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine. "The OUCC is committed to addressing aging infrastructure, reliability, and safety, as they will continue to be critical issues for utilities and their customers throughout the nation."

NIPSCO says it expects the newly-approved rates will remain among the lowest offered in the state. The utility's electric rates are not affected by the increase.

NIPSCO made its initial rate increase proposal in September 2017, which would have increased the average monthly residential bill by $10, generating more than $140 million in revenue. The utility and the OUCC reached a settlement in April, which the agency called "fair and equitable."