Bill to let Indiana utilities charge for additional costs without pre-approval passes House
A bill that would undo the effect of an Indiana Supreme Court decision passed the House on Monday.
The Supreme Court ruled that Duke Energy couldn’t recover the cost of cleaning up its coal ash waste after the fact. Coal ash is what’s leftover when you burn coal. Duke had already built those costs into its rates, but asked for another rate increase in 2019 when cleanup ended up being more pricey than it thought.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the increase, but the court called it “retroactive ratemaking” — which is illegal. Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) disagrees with the ruling and said the court should have deferred to the agency. He authored a bill, HB 1417, which would let utilities to recoup a number of “unexpected” additional costs from its customers — as long as the IURC approves.
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But some worry allowing utilities to do this will mean higher electric bills for Indiana residents and businesses. Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) said this bill sends a strong message to the IURC that they are expected to approve these requests — and its unlikely the agency would feel comfortable saying no.
The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.