Indiana's Top Electric Provider Seeks Rate Increase Approval

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's largest electric utility is seeking regulatory approval to raise its rates 1% every year until 2029 to pay for an $1.9 billion upgrade aimed at hardening its electric grid against severe weather.

Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana filed plans Tuesday with state regulators seeking to pass along much of the upgrade's cost to its Indiana customers, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

If approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, customer rates would increase an average of about 1% each year from 2024 to 2029, for a 6% increase by the final year.

Duke Energy Indiana is Indiana's largest electric provider, with about 860,000 customers, spread across 69 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The utility's rate increase request follows its seven-year, $1.4 billion grid update approved in 2016 that included upgrading, replacing or repairing more than 31,000 poles and rebuilding or improving more than 1,000 miles of overhead power lines.

The new proposed upgrade would install more technology and stronger materials, including upgrading wood utility poles to steel ones, to keep the grid resilient against severe weather, resulting in fewer and shorter power outages, said Stan Pinegar, the utility’s president.

He said the upgrade would help prepare the grid for future needs, including more electric vehicles and more customers generating their own electricity.

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor said it would give the utility’s plan “a very close look” and will file testimony based on its review.