NIPSCO, a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), submitted a request today with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to adjust its base natural gas rates—a proposed increase that will undergo a thorough regulatory review process, including the opportunity for public input. If approved by the IURC, it is anticipated that the new gas rates would be phased in over two steps. The first phase would go into effect no earlier than September 1, 2022.
“Maintaining a safe system and ensuring the safety of our customers and communities is ingrained in all facets of the work we do now and it will continue to drive how we operate in the future,” said Mike Hooper, NIPSCO’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “This request will allow for essential resources and investments to sustain the integrity of our infrastructure while balancing costs and improvements to better serve our customers.”
NIPSCO’s natural gas base rates were most recently approved in 2018. Since that time, NIPSCO has invested approximately $885 million in system upgrades, technology improvements, and pipeline safety and reliability initiatives to be completed through the end of 2022, with plans for future, continued investments. NIPSCO has been the lowest natural gas cost provider in Indiana on average over the last 10 years according to IURC comparisons (Source: Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s 2021 Residential Bill Survey) and among the lowest in the nation.
NIPSCO’s goals are to ensure its 850,000 industrial, commercial and residential gas customers across the 32 counties it serves receive a safe, reliable supply of natural gas, and that NIPSCO remains in compliance with state and federal safety requirements.
How will customer bills change?
As a regulated energy provider, NIPSCO cannot change any rates and charges to its customers without the approval of the IURC. Based on NIPSCO’s proposal, a residential customer using 70 therms per month, paying approximately $55 today, would see an overall increase of approximately $9 per month, or 17 percent. This estimated change includes a proposed increase in the monthly customer charge from $14 to $24.50. This proposed increase in the customer charge will lead to greater bill stability, which benefits customers by reducing bill fluctuation between high-usage and low-usage periods, especially the winter heating months.
New rates are proposed to be phased in over two steps. The first phase rates would not go into effect earlier than September 1, 2022. Benefits of the increased customer charge would include less volatility in customer monthly bills, reduced winter bills for high use customers and a more effective way to recover fixed costs.
Actual projected bill impacts may vary by customer, depending on usage and future potential changes in market prices for natural gas. The total overall requested increase would be about $115 million annually. Learn more about NIPSCO’s proposal at NIPSCO.com/2022gasrates.
Benefiting customers through improved service
NIPSCO’s request seeks to further its commitment to customers in several ways, including:
- Less volatility in customer monthly bills
- Ability to lower winter bills for high-use customers
- Maintaining fast response times to emergency customer calls
- Upgrading and replacing old, vintage underground pipes with more modern materials
- Providing convenient ways for customers with an iPhone or Android to view and pay their bill, enroll in programs, review usage and report electric outages through NIPSCO’s app
- Providing alternative bill payment options with online resources, including PayPal, PayPal
- Credit, Amazon Pay and Venmo
- Offering customers an opportunity to use the new online feature to start, stop or move existing service
- Continuing to offer programs to help customers save energy and become more energy efficient
- Continuing to provide bill payment assistance for income-eligible customers
- Continuing to use smart technologies to inspect and detect abnormal pipeline conditions
Help is available
As the economic effects of the pandemic are being experienced, it’s important to know that help continues to be available. Bill payment assistance programs are available for customers experiencing financial difficulties—including low-income customers. Outside of the state and federal energy assistance programs and moratorium on winter service disconnections, NIPSCO provides funding for an additional bill reduction program, credit arrangements, budget plans and reduced deposits for eligible customers, including:
- Payment Agreements: NIPSCO has expanded its payment plan agreements to offer its most flexible payment plans to customers that need financial support, including a three-month option, a six-month option introduced during the pandemic and a 12-month option for eligible LIHEAP customers. Customers can learn more and enroll at NIPSCO.com/PaymentPlans.
- LIHEAP Program: LIHEAP support is available to households that are at or below 60 percent of State Median Income (SMI). The program opens on October 1 for online and mail-in applications. Customers can learn more and find out if they qualify at eap.ihcda.in.gov or call 2-1-1.
- NIPSCO Hardship Program: For customers just outside the federal poverty guidelines for LIHEAP, the NIPSCO Hardship Program offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance to households between 151 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Hardship funds are available through many of the same local Community Action Agencies where LIHEAP funds are distributed. The programs opens on December 1.
- Township Trustees: A limited amount of energy assistance funds are available through local Township Trustee offices. NIPSCO customers are encouraged to contact their local Township Trustee to see what help may be available.
- NIPSCO Customer Assistance for Residential Energy (CARE) Discount Program: In addition to the assistance available through LIHEAP, the NIPSCO CARE Discount Program is designed to provide further bill reductions to LIHEAP-eligible customers. Once enrolled in LIHEAP, customers are automatically enrolled in the program, and reductions range from 11 to 26 percent, depending on the same criteria used by the state in determining the level of assistance.
- Customers experiencing difficulty with their bill—regardless of their income—are encouraged to contact our Customer Care Center Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT at 1-800-464-7726 to determine what help might be available to them. For more information on bill assistance, customers can visit: NIPSCO.com/FinancialSupport.
- In addition to offering a variety of payment assistance options, NIPSCO offers a number of energyefficiency programs to help lower energy usage and bills. Visit NIPSCO.com/Save for more information on available programs and other ways to save.