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With utilities under pressure, shareholders unite

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With utilities facing pressures, ranging from the threat of cap-and-trade legislation to a slow economy, a group has formed to look out for their shareholders.

The Indiana Utility Shareholders Association aims to be the “collective voice” of investors in four of the big utilities operating in Indiana: American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource and Vectren.

IUSA is headed by former state representative Tim Harris. His Marion-based organization touts 1,000 members and plans to work in the state and federal legislative arenas and with regulatory agencies such as the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Currently, the primary non-government, non-utility intervenor before the IURC is Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition, which represents utility customers.

A brochure for IUSA shows a photo of an older couple—appropriate because seniors often load up on utility stocks for their relatively stable dividend income.

Harris’ new group pledges to work to “protect and assure sufficient levels of return to retain and attract needed investment in Indiana utilities.”

Citizens Action Coalition has long argued that the utility lobby too often gets what it wants from regulators in Indiana.•

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