Time is here for public comment on 2022 NIPSCO gas price increases

Contributed By:The 411 News

If unable to attend Ft. Wayne public hearing, written comments are encouraged

January brings the opportunity for NIPSCO customers to comment on the utility's proposed price increases for natural gas as 2 state agencies continue the review of the request that was submitted in September 2021.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) invites the public to attend a field hearing on the case in Fort Wayne. After hearing evidence from the utility, the utility's customers, and other interested parties, the IURC will make a decision to approve, modify, or deny the rate increase.

The IURC is currently scheduled to host the hearing on Thursday, January 13, 2022, at South Side High School in Fort Wayne, 3601 S. Calhoun St. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6p.m. local time in the school’s auditorium, and is statutorily required in this case.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the regulatory commission, is reviewing the utility’s request and is scheduled to file testimony on Jan. 20, 2022. This agency also examines NIPSCO's books and operations.

Anthony Swinger, OUCC Director of External Affairs, said the public hearing is required to be held in the largest municipality the utility serves. "The Commission may hold additional hearings at its discretion, though we’ve observed very low turnout at most field hearings since the Covid pandemic started," he added.

Swinger said written comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments can be submitted via the OUCC’s website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.html; by email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov; or by mail at: Public Comments, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to either “IURC Cause No. 45621” or NIPSCO Gas.

The consumer counselor agency needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Jan. 18, 2022, so that it can consider them in preparing its testimony and file them with the regulatory commission to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record.

Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

NIPSCO’s natural gas utility serves 850,000 customers in 32 counties.

The utility is proposing a $115 million annual increase in two phases. It states in testimony that its request is due to infrastructure investments along with higher operating and maintenance costs.

NIPSCO’s testimony and exhibits show that its request, when fully implemented in 2023, would raise total residential gas charges as follows:

Monthly Current Proposed
Usage Gas Bill Gas Bill
50 therms $43.74 $53.33
70 therms $55.64 $64.86
100 therms $73.48 $82.16

Each NIPSCO residential gas bill includes a monthly $14.00 customer service charge which does not vary based on usage. It would rise to $24.50 under the utility’s request. The remainder of the bill varies by customer usage.

For small commercial customers, the monthly customer charge would rise from $53.00 to $80.00.

The consumer counselor agency is posting case updates online at www.in.gov/oucc/natural-gas/key-cases-by-utility/nipsco-gas-rates. Case updates are also available through the agency’s monthly electronic newsletter. Consumers can subscribe at www.in.gov/oucc/news.

The regulatory commission decision is not expected until July 2022.

Story Posted:01/05/2022

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