Citizens steam users could see hike as high as 23 percent

A vast majority of the 185 steam-service customers of Citizens Energy Group would pay at least 12.9 percent to 23 percent more under a rate-increase proposal.

The utility said Thursday it had filed a petition for the hike with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and since has provided more details to IBJ. If the increase is approved by the IURC, it likely would go into effect by spring 2014. The impact on individual customers would vary.

Mostly downtown-based commercial and industrial businesses, the steam users fall into four rate classes that each would be affected differently, said Sarah Holsapple, Citizens’ media relations coordinator.  And within each rate category, other criteria could affect the size of the increase.

The largest rate class includes 136 customers, whose rates would rise 12.9 percent to 23 percent under the proposed hikes, Holsapple said. The second-largest rate class has 46 customers, whose rates would go up 12 percent to 19 percent.

That leaves three customers in the remaining two classes. Their rates would either stay the same or increase marginally.

Holsapple declined to give examples of customers in particular classes.

Citizens requires more revenue from its steam users to help foot the bill for the conversion of downtown’s Perry K Steam Plant from coal to natural gas, the utility said.

Citizens first announced the conversion project in late 2011. The plant at Kentucky Avenue near Victory Field supplies steam to major users such as IUPUI and Lucas Oil Stadium. In warmer weather, the steam turns water chillers that cool the buildings.

The rate increase also is necessary to help pay off an existing line of credit and finance a system expansion, according to Citizens.
 

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