The public can now comment on NIPSCO's plan to invest $1 billion in utility improvements and the electric rate increase that would pay for it.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has announced the opening of a public comment period that will run through Oct. 4, with an evidentiary hearing before state regulators scheduled for Nov. 12 in Indianapolis.
The evidentiary hearing will be held at PNC Center, 101 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. The utility and consumer groups participate in the hearing, with expert witnesses quizzed by lawyers and the commission. The hearings are open to the public to observe.
NIPSCO has filed testimony in the case that calls for successive rate increases starting in 2014 that would reach a cumulative 6 percent by the end of the decade to improve its electric transmission system. The rate increases would come in the form of surcharges called trackers added to customer bills.
Improvements planned by NIPSCO include new transmission lines, new substations, new poles and upgrades to existing equipment.
A number of consumer groups have already filed notice that they will testify in the case. Those groups include the Indiana Municipal Utility Group (which includes eight cities and towns in Lake and Porter counties), the LaPorte County Board of Commissioners, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Hoosier Environmental Council, and the NIPSCO Industrial Group (which includes BP Products North America Inc., Praxair Inc. and USG Corp.).