Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean that Indiana Michigan Power is seeking a review of its base rates?

I&M has asked the Michigan Public Service Commission – an independent, bipartisan state board appointed by the governor – for approval to adjust our rates to reflect up-to-date costs and to help improve service to our customers. The commission will hear evidence from I&M and other organizations as well as accept input from the public in reaching its decision. The commission’s role is to set rates that are reasonable.

Why do rates need to change?

I&M last requested a rate increase six years ago, and costs are going up – especially as we work to replace and enhance aging infrastructure. With much of our system decades old, I&M is focusing on maintaining and improving reliability with new poles, new transformers, upgraded substation and better technology.

I&M is also making significant investments in its generation as we transition toward more emission-free energy. I&M is investing more than $1 billion in new equipment to keep the vital Cook Nuclear Plant operating for years to come. I&M is also investing in Cook to meet a number of new federal guidelines established since the last rate case. And we are proposing to adjust the depreciation of our Rockport coal-fueled plant to provide more flexibility as our generation transitions to more diverse sources, including solar and wind.

Will these new rates mean better reliability?

One element of the Building the Future plan is to systematically trim and clear trees near power lines every four years. Trees, branches and limbs are the No. 1 cause of customer outages, and a shorter cycle for tree trimming is expected to reduce outages.

Over the next five years, I&M crews plan to replace more than 2,000 aging poles, more than 50 miles of overhead wire and more than 20 miles of underground wire. New and better poles, wires, transformers and other equipment will help make the I&M system more resilient to outages, particular those related to weather events.

What may be less obvious – but just as important – is the additional technology I&M will employ to help reduce the outages and shorten the length of time such outages last.
For example, the Building the Future plan includes “sectionalizing” more circuits. When a tree blows into a line, it often knocks out energy to all customers served by that circuit – sometimes hundreds of homes. By sectionalizing circuits into shorter distances, fewer customers will lose service if that tree falls.

What is this plan doing to enhance customer service?

I&M is working to better serve our customers, proposing to eliminate the third-party fee when customers charge their bill to a credit card and making accounting changes to allow for future deployment of smart meters that give customers more control over the energy use.

I have seen my bill go up at times in the last six years. Haven’t you had rate increases since then?

I&M last sought an increase in base rates in 2011. The base rate reflects the overall cost of bringing energy to your home or business. But some of I&M’s costs separately listed on your bills as “riders” or “trackers” reflect the true cost of a certain, specific segment of your service and are adjusted periodically. For example, the Power Supply Cost Recovery is based primarily on the cost of buying fuel for our generation plants. When the cost goes down, that appears as a credit on your bill.

How much does the proposed filing request my rates to be adjusted?

For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, your monthly bill would increase less than $1 a day.

Why does I&M want to raise the service charge?

Though much of a residential customer’s bill goes toward fixed costs such as wires, poles and reading meters, I&M’s fixed-cost residential service charge is just $7.25 per month – below the average among Michigan’s regulated investor-owned utilities. I&M proposes to adjust the fixed cost to $18 to take a step toward reflecting the true fixed costs on a customer’s bill.

I&M has also proposed that the service charge for qualified low-income and senior-citizen customers be $9, or half that amount.

Is I&M doing anything to control costs?

I&M and its employees strive to work safely and efficiently as possible and to use the bulk purchasing power of I&M and parent company AEP. I&M constantly aims to improve reliability while holding the line on costs. I&M’s residential rates are well below state and national averages.

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