The electric vehicle sharing program is a good idea, but raising utility rates is not the way to pay for it, says the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.
Indianapolis Power & Light is requesting The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approve a rate increase to cover start-up costs for BlueIndy, a public-private partnership between the city and French company Bollorè Group to put 1,000 charging stations at 200 locations all over the city for an electric car sharing program.
The OUCC analyzes increase requests from the consumer perspective and makes recommendations to the IURC. In this case, the OUCC says the increase should be denied because it is not permitted under the state's utility law.
"We appreciate the hard work and effort of the City to develop the BlueIndy project and are aware that it may provide a number of tangible benefits to the community. However, we believe that the requested rate increase does not fall within the scope of relief allowed under state utility law," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler in an issued statement.
Rate increases are usually designated for service delivery, operation and maintenance costs, or system projects that benefit all customers.
"While the OUCC has a track record of supporting the integration of alternative fuel vehicles in general and electric vehicles in particular, as well as EV support equipment technology, the costs for the unfunded portions of the project should not be imposed upon IPL ratepayers. Other funding avenues should be explored to make the BlueIndy project successful," said Stippler.
The proposed rate increase would give IPL approximately $16 million to pay for electric line extensions to the charging sites as well as the installation of the charging stations and other related equipment. Company officials testified the increase would equate to about 44 cents more per month on the average residential bill.
IPL and the city will have until July 11 to file rebuttal testimony. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for July 23. Although that hearing is open to the public, questions are limited to the attorneys and the Commission for the technical witnesses who submitted written testimony.
The OUCC did request the IURC conduct a public field hearing to take public comment on the matter, however that request is still pending.