CenterPoint Energy, formerly Vectren, filed a request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (“IURC”) to raise monthly bills by at least $23 to pay for new fossil gas plants, fund a new fossil gas pipeline, and pay for more compliance projects at their obsolete coal-fired power plants.
Specifically in this Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) case, CenterPoint is asking the IURC permission for:
- $323 million to construct two new fossil gas turbines.
- $27.3 million annually for a new pipeline to deliver fossil gas to the new turbines.
- $12 million for a new dry-ash handling facility at the AB Brown coal-fired power plant.
- $19 million for new ponds at the AB Brown and Culley coal-fired plants to handle flows like run-off from coal piles, wastewater, and stormwater.
In testimony filed before the IURC, CenterPoint acknowledges that the new fossil gas turbines alone will have a bill impact of approximately $23 per month. However, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the monthly bill impact will be should the IURC approve all of CenterPoint’s requested projects.
Needless to say, the impact will be significant when considering that the amounts above do not include the annual operating and maintenance expenses related to the new projects, nor does it include the fuel costs related to the fossil gas which will be consumed by the new turbines. To make matters worse, this increase would be in addition to the enormous increase in CenterPoint South gas rates recently approved by the IURC in October of 2021.
CenterPoint Customers Can't Afford Any More Increases
While CenterPoint serves more than just Evansville, Evansville residents make up a large portion of CenterPoint customers. 21.8% of Evansville residents live in poverty (significantly higher than Indiana’s poverty rate of 11.9%). CAC is deeply concerned about the ability of Evansville residents - particularly the vulnerable - to afford this costly increase, especially during a pandemic.
Below is the breakdown of your current monthly Vectren electric bill before taxes.
CenterPoint Electric Bill Breakdown
for a customer using 1000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month
|Charges & Rates||Total Bill|
| per kWh:
|Fuel Charge per kWh:||$0.03889||$38.89|
|Variable Production Charge:||$0.00475||$4.75|
Trackers: the part of your electric bill not included in “base rates"
Trackers, also called "riders," are currently included in your CenterPoint bill and added to the base rates. The amount collected through trackers changes frequently as some are adjusted quarterly, while others change on a semi-annual or annual basis.
|Charge per kWh||Total Avg. Bill|
|Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC)||($0.010905)||($10.91)|
|Energy Efficiency Program Costs and Lost Revenues||$0.008757||$8.76|
|Clean Energy Cost Adjustment (CECA)||$0.002991||$2.99|
|Environmental Cost Adjustment (ECA)||$0.006884||$6.88|
|MISO (grid operator) Cost & Revenue Adjustment||$0.00395||$3.95|
|Reliability Cost & Revenue Adjustment||$0.000352||$0.35|
|Grid Modernization Fixed Charge
|Grid Modernization Charge per kWh||$0.001857||$1.86|
Total CenterPoint Electric Bill Including Trackers:
Since 2005, CenterPoint’s average monthly residential electric bill for customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month has increased from $88.67 to $163.20, an alarming 84%. Much of this increase is directly attributable to the fact that CenterPoint has been and remains almost exclusively reliant on coal. Over this time period, CenterPoint made the business decision to spend approximately $500 million on their coal fleet, rather than diversify their energy portfolio with clean and renewable energy, like solar and wind. CenterPoint’s overreliance on coal and failure to diversify exposed their customers to tremendous risk and has led to excessive rate increases and ultimately, unaffordable monthly electric bills.
CenterPoint wants to continue investing significant sums of customer money into fossil fuels, continuing to expose their customers to the inherent risk that comes with these investments, and turning a blind eye to the climate crisis. Fuel prices fluctuate, regulations change, competition provides price pressures, and supplies face disruptions from things like the markets, pipeline constraints, and weather. Considering all of these factors, continued investments in fossil fuels are risky and volatile. In fact, since CenterPoint filed this case, the cost of fossil gas has risen substantially and well above the price used in their testimony to support the new turbines. Fossil gas prices are currently at their highest levels since 2014.
There's a better path forward for customers and our environment. Energy efficiency and renewable energy do not use any fuel, and do not subject customers to the inherent risk and volatility of fuel prices. Additionally, these clean resources use no water and emit no toxic emissions. They are better for our health, our household finances, and our planet.
Please contact the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. Urge them to stand up for CenterPoint customers and to oppose CenterPoint’s request to raise rates for more investments in climate wrecking fossil fuels. Tell the OUCC to protect customers from the costs and risks of continued investments in fossil fuels!