Duke Energy Rate Case: OUCC Invites Consumer Comments

(UNDATED) – If you are a Duke Energy Indiana customer and would like to comment on the utility’s pending rate request, you have several chances to do so.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), is reviewing Duke Energy’s request and is scheduled to file testimony on Oct. 30, 2019.

While using its legal and technical resources to review Duke Energy’s request, the OUCC is inviting written comments from the utility’s residential, commercial, and industrial customers through Oct. 23, 2019.

In addition, the IURC will hold three public field hearings in Duke Energy’s service territory:

  • Monday, Sept. 9, in Carmel: Carmel High School Auditorium, 520 E. Main St.
  • Monday, Sept. 23, in Terre Haute: South High School Auditorium, 3737 S. 7th St.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1, in New Albany: New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Facilities Services Center, 2801 Grant Line Rd.

Each IURC public field hearing will start at 6 p.m. Consumers are encouraged to arrive no later than 5:45 p.m. for an overview of field hearing procedures and the rate case process.

At each IURC field hearing:

  • Consumers will be able to speak directly to the Commission, under oath, and on the record, regarding the case.
  • Written consumer comments are also invited for the case record.
  • Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions about the case. However, OUCC staff will be available before, during, and after the hearing to address questions about the process.

Duke Energy provides electric service to approximately 840,000 customers in 69 Indiana counties. Its pending request would raise rates in two phases, with increases taking effect in 2020 and 2021.

If approved, Duke Energy’s proposal would increase its annual operating revenues by $395 million – an increase of approximately 15.5 percent – when fully phased in.

According to the utility’s testimony and exhibits, its request would raise a monthly residential electric bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) from $120.30 to $142.95 if and when the proposed increase is fully implemented.

  • Duke Energy’s testimony and exhibits state that it is seeking the new rates due to increases in operating and maintenance costs and to pay for numerous capital improvements. The utility’s filings cite the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) throughout its Indiana service territory, ash pond closures and remediation at its coal-fired generating facilities, plans to retire certain coal-fired generation units earlier than originally scheduled, tree trimming and vegetation management costs, plug-in electric vehicle incentives, and additional improvements throughout the utility’s Indiana transmission and distribution system including line sensors and additional grid technology.
  • Duke Energy’s current base rates received IURC approval in 2004. However, billing amounts have risen since then due to rate recovery mechanisms – or “trackers” – which allow rate increases or decreases for specific items on an expedited basis.
  • Trackers are separate from base rates and are subject to OUCC review and IURC approval.
  • All Indiana investor-owned electric utilities use trackers to varying degrees.
  • Duke Energy uses trackers to recover costs for generating fuel, energy efficiency programs, environmental mandates, regional transmission, off-system sales, transmission/distribution projects, and operations and maintenance of the Edwardsport Generating Station. The utility’s request, in this case, would remove the Edwardsport tracker and place the plant’s operating and maintenance costs in base rates along with Duke Energy’s other Indiana generating facilities.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, by email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov, or by mail at: Consumer Services Staff Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor at 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Oct. 23, 2019, so that it can:

  • Consider them in preparing its testimony and
  • File them with the Commission to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to either “IURC Cause No. 45253” or Duke Energy. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

A number of additional parties have intervened in this case. They include the Kroger Co., Walmart, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Indiana Community Action Association, Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Environmental Working Group, the Department of the Navy, Wabash Valley Power Association, the Indiana Coal Council, and the following industrial customers: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Elanco, General Motors, Harrison Steel Castings, Haynes International, Nucor Steel, Rochester Metal Products, Steel Dynamics, Tate & Lyle Ingredients, and USG Corporation. Any testimony from intervenors is due on Oct. 30, 2019.

A final order in the case is expected in April 2020. The OUCC is posting case updates online atwww.in.gov/oucc/2927.htm.

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/OUCCwww.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC, or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC.

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