The Michigan Public Service Commission approved an electric rate increase for Indiana Michigan Power Co. (I&M) of just over $49 million effective April 26. It’s the utility’s first electrical rate increase in more than six years.
The total is about 20 percent less than the $61.4 million increase in requested revenue requirement the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company sought on May 15, 2017 (Case No. U-18370). This approval means the average residential customer who uses 500 kWh of electricity a month will see an $11.77 increase in their monthly bills, or 17.9 percent.
“A safe, reliable electric grid is important to serving customers in Michigan, so the Commission is not only approving short-term upgrades, but also ordering I&M to file a long-term distribution plan that will help it and the MPSC to develop a rigorous plan to address aging infrastructure,” said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC.
The Commission said replacing infrastructure and adopting advanced technology will ensure the utility’s distribution system is resilient. I&M is required to file in Case No. U-20147 its five-year distribution plan highlighting needed work to maintain its electrical system.
I&M said infrastructure improvement programs – replacing components, and work on overhead wires, poles, and underground residential cable -- will reduce equipment-related power outages. The utility also proposed implementing technology to help restore customers in a power outage.
The Commission approved funding for cybersecurity but urged the company to prove to the Commission that projects are completed on time. I&M also noted that federal rules require it to make sure digital systems at its Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman are safe from cyberattacks.
I&M last was allowed to raise rates in February 2012 (Case No. U-16801) by $14.6 million. Today’s $49,118,000 rate approval is 17.05 percent higher than rates set in the 2012 case.
The Commission decided to study the impact of the federal tax law changes in a separate proceeding (Case No. U-18494). I&M must file a Credit A application in Case No. U-20107 within 30 days of today’s order.
I&M serves about 128,000 customers in Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, and Allegan counties in southwest Michigan.