By Olivia Covington
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission denied a petition from Indianapolis Power and Light, which sought to recover $12.3 million to install charging stations for electric vehicles as part of the BlueIndy electric vehicle project.
The decision could put the controversial project in jeopardy.
In a meeting on Wednesday, the commission said there was “insufficient evidence” to support IPL’s request to raise ratepayer costs by 28 cents per month for the next 10 years. That money would have been used to install the charging stations and kiosks.
But, the IURC did approve roughly $3 million in its existing revenue to be used for distribution system upgrades for the BlueIndy project, which intends to make electric cars available for lease throughout the city.
“I think it’s important to note with regard to the decision made by the commission today that IPL can absolutely continue with the BlueIndy project,” IURC Executive Director of External Affairs Chetrice Mosley said.
The IURC’s ruling will not allow IPL to charge customers any additional cost for the BlueIndy project.
State Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, who had opposed the project, said she was shocked by the commission’s decision but called it “the best kind of surprise.”
“I applaud the IURC for listening to the concerns of people across the IPL service area,” she said. “Today’s news shows that they will listen when the cause is just.
“And this cause was just. It isn’t right to ask customers across a 10-county service area in central Indiana to pay for a privately-funded program that only will benefit a very few customers in one of those counties.”
IPL officials say they’ll have to consider the decision before deciding how to proceed.
“In terms of the future plans for the program, right now it’s too soon to say,” IPL External Communications Director Brandi Davis-Handy said. “At this point our next step is, IPL will go back, and we’ll meet with our project partners— the city and BlueIndy — and figure out what those next steps are.”
IPL filed a petition in April 2014 asking for up to $16 million in ratepayer funds for BlueIndy, which would have charged customers an additional 44 cents over five years. A settlement was reached in August that reduced that charge to the 28 cents. That’s the one the IURC considered.
“Every cent is important,” Davis-Handy said. “However, I think one thing that was communicated throughout this process, not just with IPL, but also through all of the partners, is really looking at the whole picture and the benefit of what we see this program bringing to the city of Indianapolis.”
IPL now has 20 days to either accept or appeal the commission’s decision.
Olivia Covington is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.