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I&M Hears Citizens On Proposed Rate Increase


The third and final public meeting to discuss Indiana-Michigan Power’s $600 million “Innovate Indiana” program took place at Purdue University-Fort Wayne Tuesday night.


At issue is how exactly I&M is going to pay for the program. The utility is proposing an 11.75-percent rate increase on consumers in order to, it says, create a “smarter energy grid,” which includes an emphasis on electric cars, smart meters and job growth. 


Twenty-eight individuals spoke in Fort Wayne which, according to officials, was substantially higher than numbers seen at previous meetings in South Bend and Muncie.


In Fort Wayne, residents argued the recent boost to water rates by City Utilities, as well as the recent wheel tax and local income tax increase, make paying a higher electric bill every month untenable. Speakers agreed that “smart meters” are an unnecessary expense, arguing that the current ones work just fine.


Residents also questioned the proposed increase in I&M’s flat rate -- the amount every user pays. It would jump from $10.50 to $15 per month -- or 43 percent -- making it the state’s second highest flat rate for electricity behind Indianapolis Power & Light.


Those who could not attend are still able to submit concerns to Indiana’s Office of Utility Consumer Counselor by Aug. 13. If implemented, “Innovate Indiana” would take effect in three phases: the first quarter of 2020, June 1, 2020, and early 2021.