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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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

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Floyd31138
Boone27935
Morgan25724
Vanderburgh2402
Decatur22131
White2128
Montgomery21114
Clinton2041
Harrison18321
Grant17820
Noble17420
Dubois1712
Greene16723
Warrick16326
Dearborn16221
Monroe15810
Henry1556
Lawrence14222
Miami1351
Vigo1357
Putnam1297
Jennings1264
Orange12222
Scott1153
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll882
Daviess8116
Steuben762
Newton7210
Wabash722
Kosciusko711
Wayne665
Marshall611
LaGrange592
Washington521
Jasper521
Fayette504
Fulton461
Rush452
Jefferson411
Jay410
Clay381
Pulaski380
Randolph373
Whitley342
Brown331
Sullivan311
Starke303
Owen301
DeKalb281
Knox240
Benton240
Crawford230
Perry230
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Tipton221
Wells220
Switzerland190
Blackford191
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Martin100
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