State Representative Nancy Dembowski (D-Knox) Wednesday voiced her opposition to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) decision to grant a 10 percent electric rate increase to Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). NIPSCO provides residential, commercial and industrial electric service to all or parts of twenty northern Indiana counties, including LaPorte, Starke, and Marshall county.
NIPSCO already has some of the highest rates in the State,” Dembowski said. “At a time when Hoosiers are struggling to find a job and make ends meet, this decision only adds insult to injury. State government should be looking for ways help Hoosier families, not let companies like NIPSCO take more from their pocketbooks.”
Dembowski pointed to decisions by previous Governors to cut rates during tough economic times. Under Gov. O’Bannon in 2002, the IURC recommended a 12% reduction in rates. After much negotiation, they gave a 5.5% cut on electric bills granted by the IURC.
Dembowski urged both Governor Daniels and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor to appeal the Commission’s order on behalf of Hoosier families.
“The OUCC is supposed to be the public’s voice,” Dembowski said. “In 2009, they came out against NIPSCO’s attempt to get a 16 percent rate hike saying the company wasn’t entitled to any increase at a time when Hoosiers were struggling. That should still be their position.”
Dembowski has received numerous complaints from people throughout her district who are concerned that the rate hike will only further stretch their budgets.
“Some families in my district are already making tough choices between paying for their prescriptions or cooling their homes,” Dembowski said. “This should never be the case. Rather than asking Hoosier ratepayers to dig deeper into their pockets, NIPSCO needs to tighten its belt, cut wasteful spending, and limit benefit packages to its corporate executives.”
Dembowski likened NIPSCO’s request to that of Indiana’s public universities asking for tuition increases in these tough times. She noted that Governor Daniels has responded telling universites to cut from within and reduce administrative costs before asking students or the state for more money.
“Governor Daniels should hold utility companies to the same standard,” Dembowski said. “Hoosiers are hurting and we cannot afford any more bailouts of big corporations at the expense of taxpayers.”