2011 Annual Report
Letter from the Executive Director
The year was 1974. A collection of senior groups, labor unions, community organizations, clergy, and others came together to form the Citizens Energy Coalition “to fight for consumers before the Indiana General Assembly and the Public Service Commission.” Energy prices were on the rise and consumer voices were being left out of the debate, if not completely ignored. The doors to the PSC were closed and consumers had no right to appeal.
CAC helped kick that door open and have accomplished much over our 37 years. Some of the major victories include defeating CWIP in the early 80’s to put the nail in the coffin of Marble Hill; forcing PSI, NIPSCO, and SBC to refund ratepayers’ millions for illegal rate increases; and defeating countless legislative attempts by the industry at deregulation at the Statehouse.
Despite these major victories, fast forward to 2011 and consumers in Indiana find themselves in much the same predicament as when CAC was founded. Consumer protections are eliminated virtually every year at the Statehouse thanks to a willing legislative body drunk on utility influence and money, while utility bills in all corners of the State skyrocket. As evidenced by an ongoing CAC review of utility complaints, the industry self-polices while the fox still guards the hen house over at the IURC as the revolving door continues to spin and the utilities essentially regulate themselves.
Politicians continue protecting taxpayers with great fervor while throwing ratepayers to the wolves. Utility bills are increasingly used more and more as tools for economic development and hidden tax increases as both parties throw the political football of taxation back and forth, finding a convenient home for their initiatives in the open-ended checkbook of the invisible utility ratepayer.
Indiana remains one of only three states in the entire country where those that regulate public utilities remain unaccountable to the public. Meanwhile, vulnerable populations, most notably seniors and disabled on fixed incomes, are being left out in the cold to fend for themselves as the State has few safeguards in place and the Democratic White House and Republican Congress take the hatchet to programs intended to protect the less fortunate.
All that said, public awareness and frustration is growing and opportunities abound. Our diligent work on the Edwardsport IGCC has opened the door to a real conversation on reform of the regulatory process. The greed of Vectren, NIPSCO, I&M and others have raised public angst and people are mobilizing.
The need for the advocacy, research, and organizing talents of CAC is greater than ever. I pledge our continued diligence and hard work toward fulfillment of our mission.
CAC Executive Director