• WBST 92.1 FMMuncie
  • WBSB 89.5 FMAnderson
  • WBSW 90.9 FMMarion
  • WBSH 91.1 FMHagerstown / New Castle
Indiana Public Radio, a listener-supported service of Ball State University

Indiana Michigan Power Seeking 11.75% Rate Hike For “Innovate Indiana” Proposal

By Zach Bernard, IPB News | Published on in Business, Statewide News, Technology
I&M photo
Indiana Michigan Power has submitted a $600 million plan to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission it says would create a “smarter energy grid” for the Hoosier state — and it could come with a major rate increase attached to it.

The “Innovate Indiana” plan aims to overhaul many of I&M’s financial functions to encourage the advancement of smart, clean energy use in the state.

But to achieve these goals, I&M is asking for a substantial 11.75% rate increase.

So if your bill regularly comes out around $120 per month, that could increase to roughly $141 a month. I&M suggests an increase is necessary as it “needs to continue to build its infrastructure and add technology to enhance reliability and to better serve our customers,” according to the plan.

I&M states the key components of Innovate Indiana are:

Incentives to expand electric vehicle charging, supporting the electric grid and benefiting all customers; offers rebates and special rates for charging electric cars overnight along with incentives for businesses and fleet vehicles.

Helping customers by enhancing job opportunities through reimbursing employers for qualifying apprenticeships and training.

A new Building Development Program creating a fund to help construct spec buildings that are important for job-creators seeking quickly available locations.

Continuing to offer programs to assist low-income customers having difficulty paying their utility bills.

I&M is looking to install more “smart meters,” which it says would allow for more accurate readings on power usage for customers, and help I&M respond more quickly to outages. It is also considering a $500 rebate for electric car chargers and discounts for using chargers overnight.

The utility is also looking to increase its service charge — the flat fee all customers pay — from $10.50 per month to $15. This change has already been factored into the 11.75% increase.

Currently, I&M offers the second lowest service charge in the state, above Duke ($9.01/month) and slightly below Vectren ($11/month). The increase would give I&M the second highest service charge in the state, just under Indianapolis Power & Light ($17/month).

As of now, this is only a plan; it still needs to be reviewed by the regulatory commission, and a public input period will be included in that process.

But if approved by the commission, it would take effect in three phases: the first quarter of 2020, June 1, 2020, and early 2021. For further reading on the Innovate Indiana plan, you can visit I&M’s website.