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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.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376

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