Photo: Duke Energy (Flickr)
Customers of Indiana’s six largest electricity providers will likely see lower utility bills this year.
Because the utilities did not use all of the money they collected from rate-payers last year to fund energy efficiency programs, the power companies are reimbursing electricity customers the money they didn’t spend.
Last year, the state’s utility providers began adding a small charge to every customer’s electric bill. They used the money to hire a company that would help customers save energy or enable low-income residents to weatherize their homes. Indiana’s five largest investor-owned utility companies: Duke Energy, Indianapolis Power and Light, Indiana Michigan Power, NIPSCO, and Vectren took park, as did the Indiana Municipal Power Agency.
But after collecting more than $74 million from rate-payers, the utilities only spent roughly $42 million. The energy efficiency program will continue for the next 10 years. But Duke Energy spokesman Lew Middleton says regulations prevent the companies from keeping the money for future use.
“Then that means that we need to then refund the money to the same customers that we collected the money from,” he says. “And we do that by lowering the rate at which we collect the money from our customers.”
Over the next 10 years, the program will aid in the effort to reach the overall goal of a two percent decrease for the state’s energy use set by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Anthony Swinger, a spokesperson for the Indiana Office of Utility Customer Counselor, says the program — called Energizing Indiana — is ambitious.
“Keeping in mind that this is the first year of a multi-year plan,” he says. “Energizing Indiana is still very much in its early early stages. And it’s important to keep in mind that Indiana is the only state doing a program such as this.”
Basically the only electric customers that won’t notice a difference are those who are part of Rural Electric Membership Cooperatives. Those utilities don’t take part in the program.