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Power Struggle: Duke Wants Rate Hike, OUCC Wants To Cut Them

courtesy Duke Energy (Flickr)

Repairs at Duke Energy’s Edwardsport plant could increase ratepayers’ bills by $3.60 a month, if the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission rules the fixes are necessary maintenance.

The process the plant uses to gasify coal creates acidic gas, which leads to pipe corrosion. Duke hopes to implement a 3-percent rate increase to cover the cost of fixing the pipes.

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor argues the repairs are startup costs because they were needed in the first year of the plant’s operation.

The agency recommended the Utility Regulatory Commission cut rates by four-percent instead of hiking them.  Duke recently filed an additional request, but OUCC spokesman Anthony Swinger says the watchdog office has not assessed it yet.

"The OUCC has until September 17 to complete our review and follow our testimony," Swinger says. "So, we are in the process now of reviewing those costs and we will be making recommendations to the commission mid-September."

The IURC will decide as early as this summer if Duke can implement its first request, which would affect two-thirds of the rate increase. 

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