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Electric company customers concerned about legislative proposal

Posted at 7:30 PM, Mar 11, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Opponents of a proposal pending before the Indiana General Assembly are concerned it would lead to higher utility rates.

About one dozen people protested outside IPL headquarters Monday.

They fear that the bill before the legislature would allow utilities to raise their rates without the traditional regulatory oversight.

"I'm saying right now, my wife and I are both retired and we are on a fixed income. It would be very detrimental to our budget," said Indianapolis resident Louis Burgess.

John Goldberg, a northeast side resident, said utilities would be able to raise their rates without any accountability. "I thought it was wrong for a profit-making monopoly to be seeking to make more money and not for us to be able to demand any accountability," he said.

The bill would give any utility the power to move ahead on projects that "do not include specific locations or exact numbers."

"Even if they don't know what poles, what wires and what pipes they're going to replace, it forces the Utility Regulatory Commission to approve their plan in its entirety, even if the utility has no idea what they're going to spend the money on," said Kerwin Wilson, Executive Director of the Citizens Action Coalition."

RTV6 contacted the three Republican lawmakers involved in the legislation, Rep. Ed Soliday, Sen. Mark Messmer and Sen. Jim Meritt, but none wished to be interviewed.

IPL did release a statement:

"Indianapolis Power and Light Company fully supports House Bill 1470, which will allow utilities in Indiana to replace aging infrastructure and modernize electric transmission and distribution systems via Transmission, Distribution, Storage Infrastructure Charge (TDSIC) filings while maintaining current customer protections . If passed, House Bill 1470 will provide flexibility and adaptability for TDSIC filings while retaining Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approval over the planes and updates. Additionally, the approval of HB 1470 will allow for advanced technology and innovation focused on energy infrastructure improvements, further enabling IPL to meet our customers' evolving needs."

The bill could be heard this Thursday in the Indiana State Senate.