INDIANAPOLIS — A proposed electric bill increase from AES Indiana is receiving major pushback. An advocacy group says the increased rate is higher than what AES Indiana is proposing.
"We have to make sure customers can pay their bills," Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of the Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) said.
It's a topic that is sparking quite the conversation around the Hoosier state.
"No, I don't think it's reasonable," Abby Parham said.
"It does feel like we're constantly being hit with things," Desmond Roundtree said.
AES Indiana filed an electric rate increase case in June.
"It makes me kind of wonder like what's next for us," Roundtree said.
In the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) cause no. 45911, AES Indiana is requesting a base rate increase of the average residential bill by $17.49, or 13.2%, compared to "current" rates.
Olson said since AES Indiana filled, they have been trying to figure out how AES came up with a $17.49 increase.
"We couldn't quite come up with that number and thought that it was higher than what they were telling the public, telling the media," Olson said.
After questioning and crunching numbers—
"AES was not basing that number on rates in effect today, that customers are currently paying, but rather going back to when rates were higher in an attempt for what we believe to make the increase less bad than really what it is," Olson said.
On Monday, Olson said they received an email from AES Indiana confirming what they felt all along.
"It's closer to $24 a month. If you look at what the rate was in effect in June 2023 when they filed it based on what they filed, it's about $24 a month," Olson said.
"Seeing that it's more a month like I said it just raises questions on "why?" I feel like a lot of people what to know why?," said Roundtree.
In response to the CAC claim that AES Indiana is misleading customers on proposed bill increases.
AES Indiana responded:
"AES Indiana has correctly communicated the bill impact to customers by stating that its rate case would increase a residential electric bill for 1,000 kWh of usage by $17.49, or 13.2%, compared to “Current Rates”. AES Indiana recognizes that the term “Current Rates” as used in this rate review comparison may have caused confusion as they do not represent the rates in effect today. “Current Rates” represent the comparison between the rates AES Indiana expects customers would see on a bill in early 2024 compared to the rates customers would see in Summer 2024 after the rate review is completed."
The bill calculator is designed to help customers estimate and plan for the impact on their bill based on expected electricity usage and the new base rates.
Customers are invited to share feedback during the two public hearings being held by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on August 24 and October 2.
"We welcome this opportunity to hear directly from our customers," AES said.
To learn more about AES Indiana’s regulatory rate review and to learn more visit: aesindiana.com/rate-review
Olson said at the end of the day, transparency is key.
"We expect them to be transparent with what they are filling," said Olson. “Why when they file these cases, they can't provide all of this information, accurate, current, up-to-date information that reflects what it is they're asking for from customers."
"If they can address that and be more transparent with why they are raising costs and where it's going, I think it'll be easier for people to pay that," Parham said.
Olson said there is power in customer feedback. He encourages AES Indiana customers to attend two public hearings scheduled by the Indiana utility regulatory commission.
The first one is happening at 6 pm on August 24th in Clowes Auditorium at the Indianapolis Public Library.
The second public field hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. on October 2nd at New Augusta Public Academy North.
In response to the CAC's AES Indiana misleading customer claims, The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) responded:
"The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) has not independently confirmed the figures in AES Indiana’s filing at this time. However, our attorneys, accountants, and additional analysts are carefully reviewing more than 1,800 pages of testimony and exhibits filed by AES Indiana in the rate case. The IURC has given the OUCC until October 12 to complete our analysis and file our testimony. In the meantime, the OUCC is inviting written consumer comments [in.gov] for the formal case record through October 5. In addition, the IURC has scheduled [iurc.portal.in.gov] public field hearings for August 24 and October 2. Consumer comments will go into the case’s formal record and will carry the same weight whether they are sent to the OUCC in writing or offered at a field hearing. "