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Citizens' CEO grilled on pay in rate-increase hearing

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State utility regulators kicked off a week-long hearing Monday on a proposed water rate increase for Indianapolis residents by putting the CEO of Citizens Energy Group on the hot seat.

CEO Carey Lykins—under scrutiny for a significant boost in compensation last year—was the first witness called Monday morning by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Lykins tried to make a case for a 14.7-percent increase in water rates for 300,000 Citizens customers in Marion and surrounding counties. He also had to explain his nearly $3 million in compensation last fiscal year, as well as the pay and bonuses other top executives received.

Citizens filed a request with the IURC in February to increase its annual operating revenue from water rates 14.7 percent, or $25.3 million. The hike would raise the average residential customer’s water bill from $31 to $34 per month.

Lykins told commissioners the utility needs to boost its revenue because it previously has relied too heavily on debt to pay for capital projects.

“It’s not a healthy or sustainable system,” he said.

Recent pay bumps for Citizens' top brass have drawn additional scrutiny of the utility’s need to increase costs for consumers.

Last December, IBJ reported that  Lykins earned $2.84 million in salary, bonus and incentive pay for the year ended September 2012—compared to $1.5 million in 2011.

IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt pressed the issue Monday after Lykins said his and his executives’ pay was in line with market rates based on data from consultating firm Mercer.

Atterholt noted that the Mercer study made comparisons to much larger energy companies. Comparing Citizens, which has 1,200 employees, to those firms would be akin to 1,700-employee ExactTarget paying its leaders like 430,000-employee IBM does, he said.

Lykins criticized Indianapolis media for how it has reported on his pay.

“It seems to me that there have been some sensational sound bites, let me say, around my compensation and others,” he said.

The IURC’s evidentiary hearing on the rate increase is scheduled to run through Friday.
 

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  • sensational soundbite
    What about his nearly 100% salary increase is not sensation? When we find ourselves paying private corporate rates for public good projects that are privately managed, we are doomed. If Lykins will not accept 1M as salary and no more, find someone to replace him. He clearly thinks to highly of himself and not very highly of his public obligation. Keep the sensational soundbites coming.
  • not following through on what Ballard said
    The paragraph below is copy/pasted from the April 10, 2010 article titled "City Approval of Citizens Energy Deal Could Come in May" Critics have questioned whether proposals from other firms might have raised more upfront cash for the city. Ballard contends Citizens, as a public trust, ensures a stable future for the utilities and should keep downward pressure on rates because of merger synergies Just sayin
  • Marine57
    That $3,000,000 bonus for the CEO cost the 300,000 citizens $10 each last year...
  • Commission Talks But No Action
    When will the utility commission members do their job? Without a forced rollback in the salaries of this monopoly the hearing is just a formality to absorb some of the heat from irate customers like myself.
  • Water
    Salary hikes vs water rates increase. Big brother understands the difference but will concede to water increases. These hearings are a formality but do expose vital evidence that once again Citizens can make water increases grow into salary increases.
  • Politics as Usual
    From the first day I read about Citizens, the nonprofit, taking over and using the funds to repair infrastructure, not raising rates, etc., I knew all this was coming. It never made any sense. Can we get the former water company back?
  • Absurdly Overpaid
    I cannot understand why anyone would be so absurdly overpaid. Keep investigating these guys. They are stealing from us all.

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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