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IN electricity rate and use forecast

Electricity rates are expected to increase more than 30% by 2023, but demand is predicted to be largely stagnant. That’s according to a State Utility Forecasting Group report released Monday.

The rate increases predicted over the next decade are being attributed largely to the investments energy companies must make to meet new environmental standards such as caps on mercury emissions.

Evansville-based Vectren Energy’s rates have already jumped 25%-30% over the past decade.  Vectren spokeswoman Chase Kelley says that’s because the company made major upgrades to its facilities between 2000 and 2010.

“…spending about $410 million in pollution control equipment, so we are well ahead of others in terms of environmental compliance.”

Indiana’s electricity rates have historically been some of the lowest in the country. But State Utility Forecasting Group director Doug Gotham says that’s changing.

Because Indiana’s energy comes largely from coal-fired power plants and coal plants face some of the biggest regulatory changes, Indiana’s electricity rates are increasing faster than the national average.

“So we’re kind of losing that relative advantage in low electricity rates. We’re still below the national average but we’re not in the top ten for lowest electricity prices anymore.”

Gotham says there are several causes for the low demand. He says people tend to use less energy when prices go up. And people are buying more energy efficient appliances.

Gretchen Frazee reports for IPBS member station WFIU.