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Indiana utilities want to recover revenue due to pandemic

Indiana’s gas and electric companies are asking state regulators to allow them to recover lost revenue from customers due to the pandemic, but critics argue that it would burden struggling consumers even more.

Posted: May 13, 2020 9:57 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s gas and electric companies are asking state regulators to allow them to recover lost revenue from customers due to the pandemic, but critics argue that it would burden struggling consumers even more.

Ten companies, including Indianapolis Power & Light Co. and Duke Energy Inc., filed the request Friday with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. They want to charge customers for all “bad debt expense incurred” associated with an executive order that has suspended disconnections for nonpayment through June 4.

The petition stated that the pandemic is causing “substantial adverse financial impact” on their business. But companies did not provide any actual figures regarding loss in revenue or how much customer's bills would increase if approved.

Building closures across the state has caused an overall downturn in energy use thus putting a financial strain on energy companies, the petitioners said.

Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, a consumer group, called the request “unprecedented utility greed.”

“It is disgusting that during these unprecedented times, they are more concerned with quarterly stock reports than with the health, safety and well-being of the Hoosier communities and consumers which they serve,” Kerwin Olson said in a written response. He is the organization’s executive director.

Essentially, utilities want to charge customers for energy that they did not sell, Olson added.

The Indiana Energy Association, a trade group that represents utilities, said the petition seeks to defer the fixed-cost portion of energy production “that enables companies to have power available around the clock."

The association also cited that at least 29 other states have approved similar regulations to what Indiana utilities are seeking.

If approved, utility companies will have to track coronavirus related costs and make plans on how to recover their losses, which could include charging customers over time. Customers would not be impacted immediately.

A commission spokesperson said they could not comment on pending cases.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor announced Monday it is asking the state to investigate how companies will handle the pandemic’s impact on utility rates, services, and overdue utility accounts. The agency also wants the state to extend the suspension of utility disconnections and waive all deposits and fees.

“This extraordinary and unprecedented situation calls for new protections to ensure that all Hoosiers have access to essential services, especially consumers who are suffering loss of income through no fault of their own,” Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine said.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 164581

Reported Deaths: 4143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26055792
Lake14436358
St. Joseph9606168
Elkhart9271138
Allen8647231
Hamilton6400115
Vanderburgh617162
Tippecanoe396715
Porter347550
Hendricks3418134
Monroe335638
Johnson3286130
Delaware311575
Clark306263
Vigo275340
Madison250896
LaPorte239261
Cass229724
Warrick205065
Kosciusko201127
Floyd187468
Howard169466
Bartholomew147958
Marshall147428
Dubois146426
Wayne142031
Grant133539
Henry133030
Boone129150
Hancock124744
Noble122935
Jackson121018
Dearborn103128
Morgan100340
Lawrence96838
Gibson94412
Clinton92416
Daviess92334
Shelby90632
LaGrange82815
Knox81810
Harrison81024
Posey7767
Putnam77616
Fayette76719
DeKalb76011
Jasper6885
Miami6715
Steuben6608
Montgomery63122
White62316
Greene57838
Adams5607
Scott55413
Decatur52839
Ripley4838
Whitley4836
Clay4617
Sullivan45714
Wells45611
Huntington4455
Starke4438
Wabash4439
Orange42425
Spencer4176
Randolph39210
Jennings38713
Washington3873
Franklin38325
Fulton3785
Perry36914
Jefferson3655
Pike35718
Carroll34313
Jay3386
Fountain3293
Tipton28423
Vermillion2721
Parke2564
Rush2464
Blackford2394
Newton23711
Owen2151
Martin2050
Pulaski1783
Crawford1631
Brown1473
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1130
Switzerland980
Warren911
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