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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, November 09, 2019 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

Consumer watchdog puts utility's rate-hike request in reverse

In August, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor recommended cutting a rate increase request from Indiana Michigan Power from $170 million to $2 million.

Apparently that was back when the Consumer Counselor's office was feeling generous toward the utilities it keeps an eye on.

In its most recent recommendation to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the OUCC not only suggests rejecting Duke Energy's request for a $395 million rate hike – it suggests cutting Duke's existing rates by $130 million.

Lots of people question why the electric utilities always seem to be asking for more money. At the Consumer Counselor's office, staffers with expertise are asking the questions and analyzing the answers on our behalf. The regulatory commission makes the decisions, but it clearly takes the OUCC's recommendations into account.

Duke serves 69 counties in Indiana and is the state's largest utility.

Its rate-hike request would cost average households $23 more per month. Spokeswoman Angeline Protogere told the Indianapolis Star the money would help Duke make the transition to cleaner energy, serve more customers and make service more reliable.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, told the Star the Consumer Counselor's office recommendations show “something is fundamentally not right here and this case deserves thorough examination before Duke gets another penny.”