UPDATE: The IURC issued an order in this case on Sept. 13, 2006, approving a settlement agreement between the OUCC and City of New Castle. For more information on the agreement, please see the OUCC's news release.
The OUCC distributed the following fact sheet at the agency's public information meeting and IURC public field hearing on June 21, 2006 in New Castle, Ind.
OUCC Fact Sheet
New Castle Municipal Water Utility Rate Case
IURC Cause No. 42984
On February 10, 2006, the City of New Castle filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) seeking permission to increase its rates and charges for municipal water utility service. The city filed testimony and exhibits in support of its request on April 21.
- Under the city’s request, the monthly residential water bill for a customer who uses 700 cubic feet (approximately 5,200 gallons) would rise from $12.15 to $15.80.
- The city is also requesting IURC permission to issue up to $1 million in long-term bonds.
- According to the city’s testimony, the changes would pay for capital improvements – including water main extensions and replacements – and would help cover increased operating and maintenance costs.
- This case would only affect the city’s municipal water rates. Indiana law exempts municipal sewer utility rates from IURC jurisdiction.
- New Castle’s current water rates were approved in 1990.
On Wednesday, June 21, an IURC public field hearing will be held in New Castle. Consumers will be able to submit testimony in the form of written or oral comments. The comments will become part of the official evidentiary record to be considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision on the city’s request. Consumer comments, whether written or oral, are given equal consideration.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the statutory representative for the interests of all utility customers in this case and in all proceedings before the IURC.
- The OUCC has not yet taken a position in this case but is currently scheduled to file testimony on July 11.
On Thursday, August 17, the IURC is scheduled to hold a technical evidentiary hearing in Indianapolis. The hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Indianapolis time, in Room E306 of the Indiana Government Center – South, is open to the public. However, participation in evidentiary hearings is typically limited to the cross-examination of technical witnesses who have filed testimony on behalf of the proceeding’s formal parties.
All filing deadlines and hearing dates in any legal proceeding are subject to change.
A settlement agreement is possible in any legal proceeding; such an agreement would be subject to IURC approval.
Consumers with questions or concerns about this case or other utility issues are encouraged to contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 or through the agency’s Website.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC)
- State agency
- Represents the interests of all utility consumers and the general public on issues concerning electric, natural gas, water, sewer and telecommunications utilities
- Staff of accountants, engineers, economists, attorneys, consumer services and support personnel
- Participates in regulatory and legal proceedings
- Provides consumers with a voice in utility policy
- Responds to consumer questions and information needs
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC)
- State agency
- Regulates many, but not all, Indiana utilities
- Regulates utility rates, financing, service territory, quality, etc.
- Required by law to make decisions that balance the interests of utilities and consumers
- Neutral, fact-finding body
- Authority to investigate utility rates and practices
Information Meeting and Public Field Hearing:
What is the difference?
Public Information Meeting
- Facilitated by the OUCC
- Opportunity for attorney (OUCC) and client (consumers) discussion
- Opportunity for consumers to advise OUCC staff of concerns
- Provides an opportunity for consumers to ask questions and receive information
- Opportunity for consumers to make written comments that can be entered into the official record considered by the IURC in its decision
Public Field Hearing
- Conducted by the IURC
- Formal, legal proceeding presided over by an Administrative Law Judge and recorded by a court reporter
- Often required by law
- Conducted in utility’s service territory
- Allows consumers to make sworn written or oral comments on the utility’s proposal, its service and any other relevant issue
- Not a question and answer/discussion format; designed to allow consumer comment
- Consumers providing oral comments may, at the conclusion of their testimony, be asked questions by judge, commissioners or an attorney for any formal party to the proceeding
- Comments are part of the official public record considered by the IURC in making its decision
Prepared by the OUCC
100 North Senate Avenue, Room N501
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2215
Voice/TDD (317) 232-2494
Fax (317) 232-5923