An 11-page utility bill in the Indiana Senate that a consumer group likens to “a money grab” would hasten and expand a utility’s ability to recover additional costs from customers.
Senate Bill 560 would allow a utility seeking an increase in certain rates and charges to temporarily implement 75 percent of the utility’s proposed increase if the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission does not issue an order within 300 days, “subject to the commission’s review and determination.”
Ratepayers would receive either a credit or a surcharge after the commission makes its final determination on the proposed rate increase.
A self-implemented, 75-percent temporary increase could have a palpable effect on ratepayers because some proposed increases by electric utilities have been in the range of 22 percent or more, said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition.
On complex rate issues, Olson added, “When has the commission ever acted in 300 days?”
He contends the bill is not needed because utilities have ample ability to secure low-interest financing to cover short-term costs.