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Energy and advocacy groups request AES Indiana storm outage investigation

Posted at 4:03 PM, Jul 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-12 23:32:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Advocacy groups have filed a formal petition to investigate AES Indiana’s practices and procedures for restoring power after storm outages.

This comes after severe storms swept through central Indiana on June 29, causing thousands of outages throughout AES Indiana’s service territory. AES did not report full restoration until the evening of July 4.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) have filed the petition, requesting the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) lead the investigation.

According to OUCC and CAC, they are requesting an IURC investigation because of the lengthy restoration time. They say they want regulators, consumer advocates and stakeholders to learn more about what transpired and what precautions can be taken ahead of future storms.

“We understand that the June 29 storms were especially intense, and that additional storms occurred in the following days. However, we need to gather the facts regarding the outages, especially the factors causing certain customers to be without electricity for more than five days,” Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine said. “Customers should have confidence they will receive safe, reliable, and resilient services from their utilities. We trust that a Commission investigation will identify any steps needed to improve service quality in the future.”

OUCC and CAC are also looking into AES Indiana's pending rate case. AES Indiana is requesting a base rate increase in IURC Cause No. 45911. According to their testimony, the request would increase the average (1,000 kWh) residential bill by $17.49.

"That was one of the reasons why we filed this so quickly because there’s a possibility that there might be information that would correlate between those two cases," Olivia Rivera with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor said.

Rivera says the rate case process takes about 300 days in total, so they don’t expect a final order until next year.

AES issued the following statement to WRTV regarding the petition:

AES Indiana is aware of the petition filed by the OUCC and CAC requesting a review of our electric service restoration work following the June 29, 2023 storm, which was one the worst storms in the past decade. The June 29th storm was classified as a derecho, which is a widespread wind storm that created a swath of damage extending more than 240 miles with wind gusts of at least 58 mph. The damage from the derecho resulted in a multi-day restoration process. AES Indiana safely followed procedures conducted in accordance with our established storm response plan. Being there when our customers need us the most, like during this storm, is something we prepare for year-round. AES Indiana will cooperate with any inquiry from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
AES Indiana

 The petition was filed Thursday. It can be viewed here.

OUCC is asking for written consumer comments through October 5. Comments must be in writing but can be submitted on their website, via e-mail or U.S. mail.