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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

GUEST COLUMN: Rate increase will fund I&M's plan for Building the Future

Thomas
Thomas
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, August 07, 2017 09:47 am

You can see it in Marion and near South Bend, where new solar power plants are helping in the transition toward renewable energy.

You can see it in just outside Fort Wayne, where unique-looking, cutting-edge transmission lines are delivering energy more efficiently using towers that cover a smaller footprint.

You can see it in neighborhoods where crews are proactively replacing and upgrading electric poles and wires to reliably meet demand for energy and position Hoosier communities for more economic growth.

With these projects and more — both under way and in the planning stages — I&M is Building the Future, modernizing and enhancing energy delivery and generation to meet changing needs for years to come. Current and future projects will improve the reliability of our system, with new equipment and technology to reduce the extent and duration of outages.

I&M has filed its Building the Future plan with the independent, bi-partisan Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, specifying work to reliably and responsibly serve our customers in the ways they want to be served.

We have asked the commission to adjust our rates to reflect those costs. This is the first time in six years, and only the third time in the past 25, I&M has asked for a review of its base rates in Indiana.

Your neighbors at I&M understand how utility bills impact families, and we strive every day to achieve more efficiency in how we safely do our jobs.

What will you get if our proposal is approved?

• An energy delivery system more resilient to weather, as we replace miles of aging wires and hundreds of poles with newer and stronger equipment. Reliability will also be improved by systematically trimming and clearing trees, which are the No. 1 source of customer outages.

• The ability for I&M to smoothly facilitate the transition from coal to more diverse energy sources and be ready to offer smart meters to give customers the power to better monitor and control their energy use.

• More options for our customers to support renewable energy with a voluntary program to use more wind and solar power.

• The elimination of the third-party fee assessed when customers charge their bill to a credit card.

If I&M’s plan is approved, the monthly cost to a household using 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy would be about $25. That figure includes a proposed increase in the flat customer charge.

Details about our Building the Future plan are available at our Web site, www.IndianaMichiganPower.com/BuildingtheFutureIndiana.

Few customers think about electricity except for times when you hit the switch and the power doesn’t come on. I&M thinks about electricity every second of every day and is Building the Future to help improve reliability and better serve customers.

Toby Thomas is president and chief operating officer of Indiana Michigan Power.

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