State OKs I&M rate increase

By The Associated Press

FORT WAYNE — Indiana regulators have given Indiana Michigan Power approval for a rate increase that’s less than half the amount the utility had sought for its Hoosier customers.

The Fort Wayne-based utility said Thursday that the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission had approved allowing I&M to increase electricity rates by 5.7% overall, for an increase totaling about $84 million. That amount is about 48% of I&M's original request.

A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would pay about $10 more per month. I&M had requested a 11.75% rate hike for its Indiana customers that would have resulted in those customers paying about $21 a month more.

The newly-approved rate increase will be phased in until early next year, The Journal Gazette reported.

After the utility sought the increase last May, consumers and businesses raised concerns about I&M's need for another increase, coming after a hike approved in 2018 allowed it to raise rates 7.26% to help pay for replacing aging poles and wires and removing trees.

In August, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor announced it was recommending denial of substantial portions of I&M's requested rate hike.

“I&M is a financially sound utility,” Consumer Counselor Bill Fine said in a statement then, adding that the utility's 2018 increase appeared to be sufficient to cover the company's needs.

I&M has more than 600,000 customers in Indiana and Michigan. Michigan regulators approved a separate rate increase in January.

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