NIPSCO CEO gets pay raise after seeking rate hike

Associated Press
April 10, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The CEO of one of Indiana's biggest power companies saw his salary grow 31 percent to $1.9 million in 2010 — a year in which he urged Indiana regulators to approve a big rate hike for the utility's customers to cover rising costs.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. CEO Jimmy Staton's pay increased in 2010 mainly because of incentive payouts tied to his work on NIPSCO's rate cases before regulators, The Times of Munster reports.

The company's annual proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also attributes some of Staton's salary hike to Merrillville-based corporate parent NiSource Inc. surpassing its performance goals.

Staton's salary boost came in a year when NIPSCO won an order authorizing a nearly 17 percent increase in residential electric rates and then later reversed itself, asking state regulators for a smaller 7.9 percent increase.

NIPSCO has about 457,000 electricity customers across the northern third of Indiana.

NiSource spokesman Mike Banas said Staton's pay increase also reflects that he took on responsibility for NIPSCO and other Indiana businesses in March 2010 when then-NIPSCO CEO Eileen O'Neill Odum resigned.

Staton also has retained his post as NiSource vice president in charge of its gas distribution businesses in six states.

"I think the average ratepayer will have questions, there is no question about that," Banas said. "But we are one of the country's largest utilities and one of the country's largest pipeline companies."

But consumer advocates say the escalation of utility executive pay is coming at a time when state regulators and state government seem oblivious to the rights of consumers.

"You are seeing these huge pay increases for CEOs while customers are struggling to pay for what is a basic human need," said Kerwin Olson, a utility campaign organizer for the Citizens Action Coalition.

The lawyer representing the city of Hammond in the current NIPSCO rate case, Shaw Friedman, said Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. already has deplored any increases to NIPSCO and NiSource executive salaries while customers are being asked to pay more.

Staton's boss, NiSource CEO Robert Skaggs Jr., also received a healthy boost of 39 percent in overall compensation to almost $5.77 million in 2010, although more than half of that was due to a change in how his pension will be paid out.

In a Wall Street Journal survey, Skaggs' 2009 total compensation was pegged at $4.24 million by the Hay Group, ranking him seventh from the bottom out of 35 CEOs at major U.S. utilities.

Banas said the NiSource compensation committee uses a market basket of executive pay at 27 energy companies in its review of executive compensation.

Skaggs' pay remains below average for those companies, he said. That review also is used for setting pay for other top executives such as Staton, although exact comparisons are not possible because of the unique duties of his job, Banas said.

NiSource earnings per share in 2010 were 14 percent above the year before and shareholders realized a total return of approximately 21 percent, according to NiSource.


  • Best Comment Ever
    "Robert April 10, 2011 9:58 PM
    Don't hate the players, hate the game. The last paragraph in this article is key: "NiSource earnings per share in 2010 were 14 percent above the year before/Shareholders realized a total return of 21 percent".
    This man is only responsible to the shareholders, everything else is just talk." Couldn't agree more.
  • Best Comment Ever
  • At the end of the day...
    Don't hate the players, hate the game. The last paragraph in this article is key: "NiSource earnings per share in 2010 were 14 percent above the year before/Shareholders realized a total return of 21 percent".
    This man is only responsible to the shareholders, everything else is just talk.
    • Public Dole Out
      How is a REGULATED MONOPOLY allowed to pay that level of compensation and stiff the RATEPAYORS? This is public corruption at its finest and quite similar to Washington DC and all those buffoons approving spending for their buddy's and their companies only to later go derive jobs at those companies. That level of compensation smacks of being corrupt.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

    2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

    3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

    4. Send them back NOW.

    5. deport now