INDIANAPOLIS — As AES Indiana seeks approval to increase rates, one advocacy group is saying the energy provider is misleading Hoosiers about how much their bills would be affected.
AES filed a new electric rate case with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or IURC, on June 28. In the filing, titled Cause No. 45911, the company asked for new rates that they said would tack on $17 to the average residential bill.
This, AES said at the time, would be an increase of about 13% compared to the current base rate, for a customer using 1,000 kWh per month.
However, one Indiana consumer and environmental advocacy group is now claiming that the numbers provided by AES are misleading and inaccurate.
On Tuesday, Indianapolis-based advocacy group Citizens Action Coalition announced that they have confirmed AES Indiana has been mischaracterizing the impact its customers would undergo if the rate increase is approved by the IURC.
“When CAC tried to verify AES Indiana’s calculations using the utility’s current rates, it revealed a much higher rate increase,” the group said. “Compared to the rates in effect in June 2023, a residential bill for 1,000 kWh of usage will actually increase by $23.65 (18.7%) per month, or 35% higher than AES Indiana has been telling its customers.”
In a news release, CAC said that AES confirmed to the group on Aug. 7 that its estimated bill impact wasn’t based on comparing proposed rates to current rate charges, but rather comparing them to the higher rates customers were charged in 2022 when energy prices rose.
“As a result of its failure to base its estimated bill impacts on current, lower rates, the utility significantly understates bill impacts of this pending rate case,” CAC said.
AES Indiana said in June that the increase would help cover “rising operational costs” and allow it to continue serving its customers. The company also mentioned that customers had not undergone a rate increase since 2017.
However, CAC said that is no excuse for misleading customers.
“It is inexcusable that AES Indiana is being less than forthcoming about how much this proposed rate increase is going to cost families in Indianapolis,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of CAC. “This is all about the utility trying to increase revenues and profits while keeping the public in the dark.”
In addition to these allegations, CAC also encouraged AES customers to not use the bill calculation tool being offered on the company’s website. Due to AES’s initial calculations being misleading, the CAC said, any information offered by the company could also be inaccurate.
“Customers should not use AES Indiana’s bill calculator tool, which will severely underestimate how much your bill will actually go up if AES Indiana’s rate increase is approved,” said CAC Program Director Ben Inskeep. “AES is understandably trying to cast its exorbitant rate increase in the best possible light, but misleading Hoosier families like this is inexcusable.”
In response to Thursday’s allegations by the CAC, an AES Indiana spokesperson provided the following statement:
“AES Indiana has correctly communicated the bill impact to customers by stating that its rate case would increase a residential electric bill for 1,000 kWh of usage by $17.49, or 13.2%, compared to “Current Rates”. AES Indiana recognizes that the term “Current Rates” as used in this rate review comparison may have caused confusion as they do not represent the rates in effect today. “Current Rates” represent the comparison between the rates AES Indiana expects customers would see on a bill in early 2024 compared to the rates customers would see in Summer 2024 after the rate review is completed.
The bill calculator is designed to help customers estimate and plan for the impact on their bill based on expected electricity usage and the new base rates.AES Indiana
CAC is also encouraging Hoosiers who use AES to speak out publicly against the company.
“Customers will have the opportunity to speak out against AES Indiana’s proposed rate increase at either of the two field hearings scheduled by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission,” CAC said.
The meetings will be at:
- 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 in Clowes Auditorium at the Indianapolis Public Library
- 6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at New Augusta Public Academy North
Both AES and CAC said that all customers are invited to share feedback during the meetings.
“We welcome this opportunity to hear directly from our customers,” AES said in its statement.