INDIANAPOLIS (WTWO/WAWV) — Duke Energy hit a road block in its attempt to raise utility costs as the state agency representing consumer interests recommended a denial of the increase.
Duke Energy in July asked the state Utility Regulatory Commission to approve a 15% rate increase over two years that would boost its annual revenue by about $395 million.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor filed the testimony last week with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission stating Duke Energy failed to meet the standards for a full review.
OUCC’s assistant director of the electric division testified that Duke Energy “over-reached” when forecasting operations and maintenance expenses. He said the forecasted expenses were “not in line with historical expenditures and, in many instances, exceed historical expenditures.”
The current recommendation, based on information at hand, would be to reduce the utility’s current annual rates by about $130 million; however, the OUCC was quick to point out that the recommendation is based on incomplete information.
The next step in the case is for Duke Energy to file rebuttal testimony, which is due Dec. 4.
“Rate cases are legal proceedings, so it’s not surprising there are adversarial positions like this,” said Angeline Protogere, Duke Energy spokesperson. “We’ll be responding to every claim, and there will be public hearings before state utility regulators to hear from all sides. All the evidence for the case will be carefully considered and reviewed by the commission before a decision is made.”
Protogere noted Duke Energy has added more than 100,000 customers since its last base rate request.
“We’re also transitioning to cleaner power and making our energy grid more reliable to reduce power outages,” she said.
Another factor, Protogere noted, was that customers now have the ability to monitor their energy usage and pay their bill with a credit or debit card
“We didn’t take this step lightly, and we have worked hard to keep our rates reasonable, and in fact our overall average electric rates are the lowest in the state today,” she said.
An IURC evidentiary hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 22 and will likely continue into early February, according to the OUCC. A final order from the IURC is expected in the summer.
Read the full OUCC testimony here.