FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Get ready! Your electric bill could by $20 a month.
Leaders with Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) say it's because of operating costs, but area residents disagree!
“We have been actively cutting our budgets. We have been actively cutting our expenses,” said Sarah Bodner, Director of Communications with Indiana Michigan Power. “The bottom line is, we’re at the point now where we really can’t cut anymore.”
Not too many people spoke at the field hearing Monday night, but the ones that did, made it clear—an extra $20 a month is too much.
“Other utility rates will be going up in the near future, and with all these costs hidden to the consumer and the customer at the present time, it's going to be very very devastating,” said Allen Lauer, Sr.
I&M proposed an overall 14 percent increase last September. For residents that will be a 22 percent increase. I&M says they haven't raised rates since 2009. Bodner says it's to help pay for rising operating costs, and claims I&M has been running off of money occurred from 2007. Bodner says even with the rate hike, their rates are still two-thirds lower than national rates, and 16 percent below the state average.
Some residents say they think I&M is taking advantage of being a monopoly, and their fixed incomes.
“If there was anything else that was going up at the same ratio as this, that people did not have to have, that they could choose to go without, then it would be different. But, electricity is a basic service,” said one woman who spoke at the hearing.
“It isn’t deserved by inflation only. Essentially what they’re saying is they have less use, so they should get more dollars. This amount is far greater than anybody else is able to raise their prices in any other business. This is supposed to simulate competition, not just give into a monopoly,” said State Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne.
“They just have no mercy on you. Some people have cut back on their usage, and they’ll be paying the same for services they’ve cut back on,” said another woman who spoke at the hearing.
Most of the people who spoke at the hearing say they think I&M and it’s umbrella company, American Electric Power (AEP), can find other ways within the company to pay for rising operating costs.
“People that are going to be getting their electric bills with increases, I think, need to be reassured. What has AEP directly done, looked with in-house, to see that some of this can’t be absorbed by the company?” said the first woman. “There’s a number of things within AEP that I don’t think they’ve looked at. Or maybe they have, but the public is not aware of it.”
However, the decision is not final, yet. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will review all public comments, from I&M’s coverage areas, and make a recommendation to I&M. If the IURC makes a positive recommendation, I&M says the rate hike will be implemented this Fall.
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