With rising electric bills, Indiana residents can voice their opinions to government

Three of the five major providers of electricity in Indiana are seeking sizable rate increases right now. (Credit: Ryan Martin)

Update Sept. 8, 2023: After this article published, state regulators rescheduled a meeting with AES Indiana over storm outages. The new date is listed in the article.

The Gist

Many Indiana residents would see their electrical bills jump under new requests for rate hikes by three utility companies. Residents can provide comments during public hearings or in writing. 

What’s happening 

Three of the five major providers of electricity are seeking sizable rate increases right now. But utility companies must first gain approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), and the state agency is providing an opportunity for residents to attend in-person hearings or submit written comments. 

(Design: Brittney Phan)

It’s important to note that electrical bills are routinely fluctuating because of the complicated ways that utility companies set prices and receive approval from state regulators.

Just as one example, a portion of the bill can be adjusted every three months to reflect the most recent prices for fuel. So it’s not as if the price that customers pay on their electrical bill is fixed, like a car payment. The prices are changing seemingly constantly. 

But there are moments where the utility companies seek relatively large price increases. That’s happening right now with three of the five major providers of electricity in Indiana: 

A fourth utility company — NIPSCO — recently received state approval for higher prices for about 483,000 customers in northern Indiana. 

Why it matters

Indiana residents once had access to some of the cheapest electricity in the country. Times have changed, though. 

(Design: Brittney Phan)

The average price of electricity in Indiana jumped nearly 35% between 2012 and 2022, according to a State Affairs analysis of federal and state data. In that same time, the national average grew by just 19%. 

Average residential bills in Indiana closely tracked the rise. Customers who spoke at a public hearing in August for AES Indiana’s request described how challenging it is for their incomes to keep up with the growing electrical bills. 

“A neighbor just down the road from me had to go to the pantry so he could pay his electric bill,” said Jessica Saenz, president of West Indianapolis Neighborhood Congress. “We’re really counting on the people in charge to look out for us … lives are on the line.”

Indiana was ranked 31st in electrical prices last year — trailing nearby states Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. 

The cost of electricity among Indiana’s five investor-owned electric utilities is expected to continue to rise through 2025 by about 30%, according to the most recent state forecasts.

More about the price increase requests

To estimate the impacts on residents' bills, consumer advocates and utility companies tend to use a monthly bill of 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) as a base example. 

Customers can find how much electricity they use by reviewing a monthly bill.

But under CenterPoint Energy’s proposal, homes using 1,000 kWh each month would see increases of: 

  • $2.55 per month in 2024
  • $5.33 per month in 2025
  • $8.34 per month in 2026
  • $11.81 per month in 2027
  • $14.68 per month in 2028 

That’s according to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), a state agency that represents customers before state regulator proceedings. 

CenterPoint Energy says the money would pay for the replacements of transmission lines, substations and wooden poles, as well as additional security. It’s part of a new, $454 million infrastructure plan. 

AES Indiana's Harding Street power plant on the south side of Indianapolis once bustled with activity tied to coal. In 2015 and 2016, its units were converted into gas. (Credit: Ryan Martin)

AES Indiana, meanwhile, is seeking to raise $134 million because of inflation, as well as to pay for infrastructure projects and add new ways for customers to pay their bills. 

Residents using 1,000 kWh would see an increase of $17.49, according to the OUCC. 

The Citizens Action Coalition, a consumer watchdog group, has published detailed information about the AES rate increase. AES' website also contains more information, including a calculator showing how the rate increase would affect each customer and a list of town halls that the utility company will hold. (The town halls are different from the public hearings.)

As for Indiana Michigan Power, the utility is seeking to boost its revenues by about $116 million, according to the OUCC. A monthly bill using 1,000 kWh would rise by $14.83 on average, the OUCC said. 

The utility company aims to make infrastructure improvements, providing new payment plans and online access to customers, and study the future of the Cook Nuclear Plant that is located in Michigan but provides power to Indiana residents. 

Finally, NIPSCO recently received state approval to raise prices. More about that process can be found on the websites for the OUCC, Citizen Action Coalition and NIPSCO

How to provide comments

For customers of CenterPoint Energy, the regulatory commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at Old National Events Plaza, 715 Locust Street in Evansville. 

And for AES Indiana, the IURC already held one hearing last month. The next is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at New Augusta Public Academy North, 6450 Rodebaugh Road in Indianapolis.

State Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, urges the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to reject an AES Indiana request to raise rates during a field hearing on August 24, 2023, in Indianapolis' Central Library. (Credit: Ryan Martin)

Separately, state regulators are requiring AES Indiana to provide information as part of a potential investigation into the utility company’s response to storm outages in late June and early July. That meeting on Oct. 2 will be live-streamed

The IURC has not yet announced a public hearing for Indiana Michigan Power’s request. 

For residents who can’t attend in-person hearings, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor will collect written comments on its website, at [email protected] or by mail at: 

Public Comments, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington Street, Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Residents should include their names, city and ZIP code, as well as the specific cause number:

  • CenterPoint Energy: 45894 (Deadline for written comments is Sept. 15) 
  • AES Indiana: 45911 (Deadline is Oct. 5)
  • Indiana Michigan Power: 45933 (Deadline is Nov. 8) 

What’s next

It’s expected that the IURC will rule on CenterPoint’s request in December, and on the requests from AES Indiana and Indiana Michigan Power in spring 2024. 

Contact Ryan Martin on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or at [email protected].

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Header image: Three of the five major providers of electricity in Indiana are seeking sizable rate increases right now. (Credit: Ryan Martin)