Say NO to Vectren smart meters and more fixed charges!

Nix the fix! Say NO to Vectren smart meters and more fixed charges!

Say NO to Vectren smart meters and more fixed charges!  

Tell the IURC to reject the settlement. No Vectren rate hike!

Vectren has recently reached a settlement with the Office of Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and the Vectren Industrial Group which, if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), will raise your rates $446.5 MILLION to pay for investments to their transmission and distribution system. The plan was enabled by a bill (SEA560) that Vectren lobbied Indiana State Legislators to pass in 2013.  

  • The average monthly electric bill of Vectren electric customers has already increased by 63% in the last ten years. That’s over 20% higher than the other Indiana investor-owned utilities. 

  • Additionally, this requested rate increase does not include the nearly $100M in costs for environmental compliance projects which Vectren has yet to collect from customers. Vectren has previously indicated they will seek those costs beginning in 2020. 

Ratepayers can’t afford any more increases!

If approved, Vectren claims that the settlement will increase rates between 0.72% to as high as 1.65% every year until 2024. Adding insult to injury, Vectren is seeking to recover a portion of those increases in a fixed monthly charge, rather than a charge per kilowatt hour consumed. If approved, the settlement will allow Vectren to raise the monthly fixed charge on your electric bill by $1.00 every year beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2024.

Allowing Vectren to recover these costs in a fixed monthly charge removes any incentive for the company to control their costs. Charging more for using less through higher fixed charges disproportionately hurts households on low or fixed incomes and it diminishes the longstanding principal of encouraging conservation. It also imposes an unfair “tax” on farms, homes, and businesses that choose to make their properties more energy efficient, or install solar panels, wind turbines, or other distributed energy technologies on their property.  

Customers should not be penalized for investing their own money to make their properties more efficient or to generate their own energy! 

The settlement will also allow Vectren to install expensive, invasive, and unnecessary smart meters in all 152,000 home and business in their Indiana service territory. Smart meters should not be mandatory.  Vectren should be required to offer the smart meters to customers as a voluntary option. Ratepayers should not be forced to pay for a smart meter they don’t need and they don’t want. Additionally, many concerns have been expressed about privacy and cyber security related to the installation and use of smart meters.  All of these concerns must be addressed prior to any approval for a smart meter rollout.

If approved, this settlement would give them excessive profit to do something they are supposed to be doing anyway: provide reliable electric service.  The projects included in the $446.5 plan by Vectren are investments Vectren is required to make to meet their legal obligation of providing reliable electricity to their captive customers: distribution system upgrades and replacements as well as improvements to substations, transformers, circuit breakers, poles, and lines. This bill tracker would shift the burden of cost and risk of running a monopoly utility company from voluntary investors to captive ratepayers. As a result, the utilities guaranteed rate of return should be reduced to reflect the reduction in risk. Despite this reduction in risk foe Vectren, the settlement filed with the IURC gives Vectren their full 10.4% rate of return. 

If ratepayers are going to be forced to assume the risk, then ratepayers should realize some of the reward. Vectren’s ROE (profit) should be reduced!