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Consumer Counselor Opposes IPL's Proposed Rate Increase

State office says rate hike to fund electric car sharing would not benefit all IPL customers
The state office that represents consumers' dealings with utilities doesn't believe Indianapolis Power and Light should be allowed to raise rates.
The Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) filed written testimony opposing a proposed IPL rate increase to help fund start-up costs for Indy's electric car sharing program.   "We believe that the requested rate relief falls outside the scope of what state utility law allows," said Anthony Swinger with the OUCC.
IPL proposed a rate increase of up to $16 million to help pay for the installation of charging stations for the electric car sharing program that will be operated by Bollore.  The French company is willing to invest $35 million to open in Indianapolis what would be the largest electric car sharing program in the U.S.  If the power rate increase is not approved by October 31, Bollore has the right to cancel the deal.
IPL says the new rate would only cost customers an additional 44-cents per month, and the rate hike wouldn't take effect until January 2018.  But Swinger says the size and the timing don't matter, saying state law only allows utility rate increases for certain reasons. "Money collected through utility rates should go toward a utility's provisioning of service, service to all customers," Swinger said. 
Kelly Huntington, CEO of IPL, has previously criticism of the rate increase.  Last month, she told me it was an investment in the growth of the city's economy, "We think forward-thinking projects like this are what make Indianapolis a great city. People could have said the same thing about building a new stadium or the cultural trail."  Swinger's criticism is not of the project, however.  "We believe the project is a good initiative.  We see a lot of benefits to the project," Swinger said.  "Things that benefit all customers are certainly appropriate to be included in rates.  We believe this project falls outside that scope."
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate increase on Wednesday, July 23, at PNC Center in Indianapolis.
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