Citizens Energy seeks another rate hike for water customers

Citizens Energy Group announced late Friday afternoon that it is seeking a rate increase that will raise the average residential water bill 20 percent starting early next year.

The utility, which provides water to about 400,000 homes and businesses in the eight-county Indianapolis area, said average residential bills would rise from $30 per month to $36.

A petition for the hike was filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Friday, the utility said.

Last March, the IURC gave Citizens approval to raise water rates for Indianapolis customers by 9 percent. The approved increase was lower than the 14.7-percent bump Citizens had sought, but well above the 2.6 percent the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, a consumer watchdog group, argued was appropriate.

“When Citizens acquired the water utility in 2011, we knew rate increases would be necessary in order to upgrade a system that had been neglected for decades,” Citizens Chief Operating Officer Jeff Harrison said Friday in a written statement. “The proposed low-income rate allows us to improve our water system while also keeping the financial needs of our customers top of mind.”

Citizens said it has has invested more than $230 million in water-system upgrades since 2011, including programs to replace aging water mains and install more fire hydrants. Earlier this week, the utility announced plans for a new $20 million reservoir in Hamilton County.

As part of the filing, Citizens said it proposed a new low-income residential rate that will provide a 15-percent discount to customers enrolled in the Indiana Energy Assistance Program.

Last April, Citizens received IURC permission to hike monthly wastewater bills by about 26 percent, or close to $14 on average, for all customers.

 

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