State Rep. Win Moses works to clarify utility territory questions

Press release from the City:

State Rep. Win Moses Works to Clarify Utility Territory Questions
Legislation Receives Strong Support from Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry

Indianapolis – Tackling issues at the heart of the lease dispute between the City of Fort Wayne and Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), State Representative Win Moses (D-Fort Wayne) today introduced legislation to resolve key service area questions. The amendment received the immediate endorsement of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry.

The new legislation would settle fundamental utility regulatory issues that linger from leases predating the 1980 law creating Indiana’s electric utility service areas. If adopted into law, the amendment would become part of Indiana Code.

“It’s time to level the playing field,” Moses said. “Fort Wayne leased its municipally owned power company to I&M in 1974. The utility was never sold. That lease is now coming to an end. There is no doubt in my mind that these are the City’s customers, but there must be for I&M. To help them better understand what’s meant by a lease, we are asking the state legislature to reaffirm the City’s right to its territory and to serve its customers. This legislation would settle that matter once and for all. The assets of the people of Fort Wayne deserve to be protected.”

The central provision of the proposed legislation would confirm that when a lease signed prior to the formation of Indiana’s electrical utility service areas expires, the original electric utility owner, the lessor, retains the rights to its territory and to serve those customers. It also directs those seeking resolution for issues or conflicts arising from the arrangement to look to the terms of the original lease agreement for the answers.

“The City of Fort Wayne is extremely grateful to Representative Moses for working to confirm the City’s rights,” Henry said. “I am pleased he has joined me in the fight for fairness. Our electric utility is a valuable asset. The opportunity to exclusively serve our 33,000 customers is a privilege. Fort Wayne ratepayers and taxpayers will be the beneficiaries. I strongly endorse this legislation and encourage the entire Indiana General Assembly to do so and to cast their votes for fairness.”

I&M’s lease with the City will end on March 1, 2010. With no new agreement with I&M in sight and notice of the City’s intention to act required by May 31, 2009, the City announced recently that it would exercise its option to take the municipal electric utility to the market in search of another provider. The City’s next step will be to obtain competitive bids from power suppliers and system operators.

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