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American Suburban Utilities Gets Most, But Not All Of Rate Hike Requested

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Bette Carson/WBAA
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Tippecanoe County’s American Suburban Utilities, or ASU, will get most of the rate hike it requested, but not all.

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or IURC, has approved a three-phase price hike that increases fees more than 60 percent. When it’s complete, residential bills will go from $47.50 a month to more than $77.24.

The privately-owned waste water utility wanted to charge $85.18 per month.

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor countered with a recommendation of $60.80 per month.

OUCC spokesman Anthony Swinger says customers will see the first phase of the increase -- to $48.89 per month -- right away.

“The utility is allowed to implement the first increase immediately,” Swinger says. “It will ultimately be allowed to implement two more phases, but those will have to be reviewed to make sure that they’re consistent with the terms of the commission order.”

Swinger says his office successfully argued the utility couldn’t recover the costs of pipe upgrades for which it had no receipts or invoices.

And, he says the IURC followed the OUCC’s recommendation to only expand the capacity of its treatment plant from 1.5 million gallons per day to 3 million gallons, half the amount ASU requested.

“We didn’t think it needed to go as large as six million gallons per day, so that was an issue where the commission agreed with the argument that we had put forward,” Swinger says.

Because the IURC missed a state-mandated deadline to decide the case, the regulatory commission allowed ASU to charge an interim increased fee of $50.20 per month effective Aug. 29.

In its agreement to comply with the IURC, American Suburban Utilities reported it would credit customers for the amount overpaid during the past three months.

Several ASU customers opposed the rate increases, creating a non-profit group that hired an attorney to fight the company’s proposal.

Company officials did not immediately respond to WBAA’s request for comment.

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