Statement issued Thursday morning:
FORT WAYNE, Ind., Oct. 15, 2009 – Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) today announced that it was taking action necessary to ensure that service to its customers is not disrupted as I&M and the City of Fort Wayne continue to try to resolve their differences over the end of the City Light Lease.
Recent mediation efforts were not successful in resolving issues stemming from the thirty-five year lease of electric infrastructure with the City of Fort Wayne, which is due to expire on February 28, 2010.I&M believes that legal action is necessary at this time because the City has stated that it may attempt to unilaterally terminate the Lease and take possession of I&M's electrical system sometime after October 19, 2009.
As the exclusive service provider in this territory, I&M has both the right and the duty to provide electric service to its customers and cannot allow service to its customers to be adversely affected by any attempt to interfere with that right and duty. Consequently, I&M has asked the Allen County Superior Court to prohibit the City from attempting to take over service
"Throughout negotiations, we promised our customers that regardless of the outcome of discussions over the termination of the Lease, we would not allow delivery of safe, reliable electricity to be jeopardized," said Helen J. Murray, I&M President and Chief Operating Officer. "While we remain hopeful that the remaining issues can be resolved, we are reluctantly forced to take this action to protect our customers' interests."
I&M engaged the City in negotiations over the past several years, most recently through mediator John W. Whiteleather, to reach an agreement. I&M cannot discuss specifics of the negotiations or mediation. However, discussions with the City will continue.
"We will not turn our back on our customers," noted Murray. "Fort Wayne customers will continue to receive the high level of service they have come to expect from I&M."