An e-mail from Indiana Senator David Long:

Long: Consumers can share views on proposed 16+% water rate hike at meeting Wednesday

(August0 2, 2010) – Aqua Indiana customers are encouraged to attend an informational meeting and a public hearing this week to learn about the water company’s pending request for a 16-plus percent rate change, said Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne).

Long said the meeting and hearing will both be conducted on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at Summit Middle School, 4509 Homestead Rd.:

At 5:30 p.m., an informational meeting will be hosted by the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) to discuss the regulatory process and describe public field hearing procedures; and

At 6 p.m., the OUCC will conduct a formal public field hearing to accept oral and written consumer comments regarding Aqua Indiana’s water rates and proposed increase.

Long said under the utility’s request, the monthly water bill for a residential customer using 5,000 gallons would rise from $32.90 to $38.31, with monthly metered sewer charges for the same customer increasing from $43.35 to $51.38.

Aqua Indiana was granted a significant rate increase less than two years ago, in August 2008.

“A number of people have expressed concerns about this proposed rate increase, especially since it follows so closely on the heels of the last one. I share these concerns, and will be listening carefully to the information provided at this meeting,” Long said.

Any utility rate changes must be reviewed by OUCC – a state agency representing the interests of residential and business utility consumers – and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

Long said sworn oral and written comments regarding the rate case will be accepted during the field hearing. Both forms of testimony carry equal weight and will become part of the official evidentiary record considered by the IURC in reaching its final decision. Commissioners are not permitted to answer consumer questions during the formal field hearing. However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available throughout Wednesday’s meeting and hearing.

Public input provided to the IURC and OUCC will be included in official records used to make final decisions regarding Aqua Indiana’s request, Long said.

Consumers who are unable to attend the public hearing may submit written remarks before Aug. 24. Written comments should include a name, mailing address and reference to IURC Cause No. 43874. Remarks can be delivered via U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail or by visiting the OUCC’s website:

Mailing address:

Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St.
Suite 1500 S.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Fax number: 317-232-5923

E-mail address: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

Website: www.IN.gov/OUCC

Long said the OUCC has not yet taken a position in this case. The OUCC is currently scheduled to file testimony with the IURC on Aug. 31. The City of Fort Wayne has formally intervened in this case through legal counsel and is also scheduled to file testimony.

For more information on this case, including links to Aqua Indiana’s testimony and exhibits, please visit the OUCC Website. Long said the OUCC Website also offers a guide to state utility regulatory proceedings and tips for reducing water and energy bills.

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