NO Rate Hike For Lost Pandemic Revenue, Freeze Extended For Disconnections

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission issued an Order today (6/29/20) in Phase 1 of its investigation (Cause No. 45380) into the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID19) on ratepayers and utilities in the state. In the Order, the Commission denied joint utility petitioners’ request (including Duke Energy) for cost recovery of lost revenue.

The Order states, “Under the regulatory compact, at a base level, utilities are obligated to provide safe, reliable service and customers are obligated to pay just and reasonable rates for any such service they receive.

The balance of this Order seeks to work toward allowing customers to meet their obligation while providing utilities the reasonable relief they need to help such customers do so. However, asking customers to go beyond their obligation and pay for service they did not receive is beyond reasonable utility relief based on the facts before us.”

The Commission also deferred the joint utility petitioners’ request related to increased operations and maintenance and pension expenses until it can be evaluated in Phase 2 of the investigation.

Additionally, the Commission found that the service rules and tariffs of jurisdictional utilities should be temporarily amended to prohibit utility service disconnections for 45 days through August 14, 2020, for all customers in its jurisdiction.  They will also be prohibited from collecting certain utility fees (late fees, convenience fees, deposits, and re-connection fees). Many utilities implemented a disconnection moratorium voluntarily prior to the Governor’s Executive Order. In addition, the Commission doubled the minimum requirement for extended payment plans by requiring all jurisdictional utilities to offer payment plans of at least six months to all customers.

The Commission expects customers and utilities to communicate as soon as possible to set up payment arrangements as necessary so utility service can be maintained.

To review the Commission’s Order in Cause Number 45380, as well as all related documents in this case, please visit the Online Services Portal here and search by the Cause Number.