In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law allowing utility companies to recover infrastructure improvement costs through the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s (IURC) Transmission, Distribution and Storage System Improvement Charge. This tool, commonly referred to as a tracker, helps utility companies invest effectively in their infrastructure’s health.
Last year, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against the utility company’s interpretation of the tracker law, saying the way tracker plans were currently written does not comply with the 2013 statute.
House Enrolled Act 1470, which I sponsored in the Senate, would make important improvements to the tracker laws and codify the practices utility companies have been following for years.
This legislation would keep Indiana’s strong consumer protections for ratepayers. Utility companies would not be able to increase their fees for tracker improvements more than they already under current law which is limited to two percent.
Along with protecting consumers, HEA 1470 would also ensure utility companies are not hindered by state regulations and are permitted to update their infrastructure with the most advanced technology, which may not have been available when the tracker plan was initiated. Giving utility companies the flexibility to implement their tracker plans and improve their equipment would make it more efficient for them to maintain and improve their infrastructure, leading to better utility services for Hoosiers.
In addition, this plan would relax some of the strict guidelines imposed by the court, including how the inspections and repairs are planned and when the proposed improvements must be given to the IURC. It would also allow the utility companies to update their tracker plans, which are anywhere from five to seven years long, during their annual review by the IURC.
These changes would be a great step forward for Indiana, keeping our strong consumer protections in place while eliminating obstacles to long-term investments by utilities, as well as providing communities with reliable, up-to-date infrastructure.
As always, feel free to contact my office directly with your questions and concerns at Senator.Messmer@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.
A high-resolution photo of State Sen. Mark Messmer is available by clicking here.